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Navigating on a chemical radar: Usage of root exudates by foraging Diabrotica virgifera virgifera larvae

Schumann, M., Ladin, Z. S., Beatens, J. M., Hiltpold, I.
Journal of applied entomology 2018 v.142 no.10 pp. 911-920
Diabrotica virgifera virgifera, Zea mays, chemical compounds, chemical ecology, corn, foraging, host plants, insect pests, integrated pest management, larvae, models, pest control, radar, root exudates, roots, soil
In the darkness of the soil matrix, the larva of the western corn rootworm (WCR) Diabrotica virgifera virgifera LeConte relies on chemical cues to locate and accept its host plant roots. For almost 40 years, entomologists and chemical ecologists have tackled the challenge of isolating and identifying active chemical compounds emitted by host plant roots (most of the research has been conducted on maize Zea mays L.) and used by the foraging insect pest larvae. A number of molecules of interest have been documented but have so far only been implemented with little success in the current arms race to manage WCR (and soil‐dwelling pests). An in‐depth understanding of the mechanisms underlying the insect foraging behaviour is certainly critical to the development of highly effective and sustainable pest control strategies. This contribution reviews the progress and highlights the gaps in our current knowledge on the chemical ecology of WCR larvae. An individual‐based model of the larval behaviour in response to root volatiles has been developed based on data from the literature. It also proposes avenues (tested or theoretical) to eventually implement this knowledge in integrated pest management of this major maize pest, a critical approach as WCR has evolved resistance to several control strategies.