Rootworm Roundup

November 12, 2011 09:52 AM

Farmers know all about resorting to practical ingenuity and engineering to solve a problem.  Entomologists—a long name for those scientists who love to study what bugs you—often find themselves doing the same.

Crop Tech Rootworm Roundup
USDA–ARS entomologist Tom Sappington shows the vacuum-like gadget scientists use to capture adult western corn rootworm beetles.

While visiting Iowa State University’s Insectary, we couldn’t help but admire the "bugbuster" designed to catch wily adult western corn rootworm beetles. In case you haven’t heard, there’s evidence that rootworms might be evolving to resist some of the transgenic efforts to combat them. Studying rootworms has always been a big deal, but now the stakes are even higher.

The monitoring of insect populations has long been recognized as an essential part of any successful pest control program. Various insect traps, including sticky traps, light traps, pitfall traps and pheromone traps, are used to monitor insect numbers. However, in corn rootworm research, adults are often captured live to use in insecticide resistance assays and DNA studies.

Tom Sappington, a USDA–Agricultural Research Service entomologist at Iowa State University, says adult beetles move quickly and can sometimes be elusive. "Coupling a common DustBuster with clear PVC pipe, our scientists have been able to suck up quite a few of them," Sappington says.


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