Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science





First Advisor

Aaron J. Gassmann

Second Advisor

Thomas W. Sappington


The western corn rootworm, Diabrotica virgifera virgifera (LeConte) (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae), is an economically important pest of corn in the northern United States. Some populations have developed resistance to management strategies including transgenic Bt corn. Knowledge of insect dispersal is of critical importance for models of resistance evolution. Larval density affects survival in the field, and stress from crowding often affects facultative long-distance dispersal of adult insects. In this study, we used laboratory flight mills to characterize western corn rootworm flight performance as a function of larval rearing density. Larvae were reared under three densities and the resulting adult females were either allowed to fly voluntarily for 22 h or forced to fly specified durations. For both experiments we also measured lifetime fecundity following flight. The three rearing densities placed differential levels of stress on individuals, as evidenced by decreased survival to adulthood and decreased size of adults at greater rearing density. When larvae were reared under crowded conditions the resulting females were more likely to engage in flight activity, including long uninterrupted flights lasting >10 min, than those reared under low density conditions. Flight and egg production are both energy intensive processes. However, we found no evidence in either voluntary or forced flight experiments of a tradeoff between flight activity and female fecundity. The results suggest that females emerging from high density populations in cornfields are more likely to disperse and disperse farther than those emerging from low density populations.

Copyright Owner

Eric Yu Yu



File Format


File Size

62 pages

Included in

Entomology Commons