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LOGO: Journal of Cotton Science


Impact of Various Bt Cotton Traits and the Application of an Insecticide on the Within Plant Distribution of Helicoverpa zea (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) Larvae and Injured Floral Structures

Authors: D.D. Kerns, D.L. Kerns, G.M. Lorenz, A.L. Catchot, and S.D. Stewart
Pages: 148-158
Arthropod Management
DOI: (

Previous studies have indicated that the expression of insecticidal proteins from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) in cotton can have a significant influence on the behavior of bollworm larvae (Helicoverpa zea, Lepidoptera:Noctuidae). This suggests that the particular Bt protein produced by a cotton variety may need to be considered when determining the most ideal scouting methods to utilize for bollworm. NonBt, WideStrike (producing Cry1Ac + Cry1F Bt insecticidal proteins), and Bollgard II (Cry1Ac + Cry2Ab) cotton varieties were planted and either treated with an insecticide or left untreated. The presence of H. zea larvae and their feeding injury were recorded according to their location in the canopy and type of floral structure where they were found. Results from comparison of larval and injury distributions indicated no significant differences between the different cotton varieties tested, and that insecticide treatment had minimal impact on this distribution. Larval size was generally associated with location in the canopy, suggesting that larvae tend to move towards the middle of the canopy as they age. The effect of different Bt cotton technologies appears to associate with how quickly larvae move to preferred feeding sites rather than their preference for particular feeding sites. These results suggest that scouting methods could be standardized independently of the presence of a Bt cotton trait or previous insecticide application. Focusing scouting efforts on the middle portion of the canopy (i.e., nodes 6-9) should increase the detection of small larvae and ‘fresh’ injury and be less influenced by previous insecticide applications