In a finding that could have broad implications for farmers ability to stop pests from decimating cotton crops, scientists from North Carolina State University and agricultural research stations in the Cotton Belt have developed a new technique to determine where the larvae of certain agricultural pests develop.
The study, which looks at the characteristics of the moths that the larvae turn into, shows that a large majority of late-season moths in the Cotton Belt - specifically Helicoverpa zea, a major pest of cotton commonly known as the cotton bollworm - are not developing on cotton and soybean plants, as the prevailing theory suggests, but are developing instead on plants like corn.
The research suggests that this non-toxic corn, therefore, provides a major refuge for H. zea moths, and as such is critical to halting the evolution of insecticide-immune pests, perhaps more so than existing small cotton refuges.
Dr. Fred Gould | EurekAlert!
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