Skip to main content Accessibility help

Screening of entomopathogenic nematodes for virulence against the invasive western corn rootworm, Diabrotica virgifera virgifera (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) in Europe

  • S. Toepfer (a1), C. Gueldenzoph (a1), R.-U. Ehlers (a2) and U. Kuhlmann (a1)


Entomopathogenic nematode species available in Europe were screened for their efficacy against both the root-feeding larvae and silk-feeding adults of the western corn rootworm, Diabrotica virgifera virgifera LeConte. Laboratory screening tests were aimed at the selection of candidate biological control agents for the management of this invasive alien pest in Europe. Steinernema glaseri, S. arenarium, S. abassi, S. bicornutum, S. feltiae, S. kraussei, S. carpocapsae and Heterorhabditis bacteriophora were studied to determine their virulence against third instar larvae and adults of D. v. virgifera in small-volume arenas (using nematode concentrations of 0.5, 0.8, 7.9 and 15.9 infective juveniles cm–2). All nematode species were able to invade and propagate in D. v. virgifera larvae, but adults were rarely infected. At concentrations of 7.9 and 15.9 cm–2, S. glaseri, S. arenarium, S. abassi and H. bacteriophora caused the highest larval mortality of up to 77%. Steinernema bicornutum, S. abassi, S. carpocapsae and H. bacteriophora appeared to have a high propagation level, producing 5970±779, 5595±811, 5341±1177 and 4039±1025 infective juveniles per larva, respectively. Steinernema glaseri, S. arenarium, S. feltiae, S. kraussei and H. bacteriophora were further screened at a concentration of 16.7 nematodes cm–2 against third instar larvae in medium-volume arenas (sand-filled trays with maize plants). Heterorhabditis bacteriophora, S. arenarium and S. feltiae caused the highest larval mortality with 77±16.6%, 67±3.5%, and 57±17.1%, respectively. In a next step, criteria for rating the entomopathogenic nematode species were applied based on results obtained for virulence and propagation, and for current production costs and availability in Europe. These criteria were then rated to determine the potential of the nematodes for further field testing. Results showed the highest potential in H. bacteriophora, followed by S. arenarium and S. feltiae, for further testing as candidate biological control agents.


Corresponding author

*Fax: +0041 32 4214871 E-mail:


Hide All
Baca, F. (1994) New member of the harmful entomofauna of Yugoslavia Diabrotica virgifera virgifera LeConte (Coleoptera, Chrysomelidae). Zastita Bilja 45, 125131.
Barbercheck, M.E. (1993) Tritrophic level effects on entomopathogenic nematodes. Environmental Entomology 22, 11661171.
Barbercheck, M.E., Warrick, W.C. Jr. (1997) Evaluation of trap cropping and biological control against southern corn rootworm (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) in peanuts. Journal of Entomological Science 32, 229243.
Baufeld, P. & Enzian, S. (2005) Maize high-risk areas and potential yield losses due to western corn rootworm (Diabrotica. v. virgifera LeConte) damage in selected European countries. pp. 285302Vidal, S.Kuhlmann, U.Edwards, C.R. (Eds) Western corn rootworm: ecology and management. Wallingford, Oxon, CABI Publishing.
Brust, G.E. (1991) Augmentation of an endemic entomogenous nematode by agroecosystem manipulation for the control of a soil pest. Agriculture Ecosystems and Environment 36, 175184.
Chiang, H.C. (1973) Bionomics of the northern and western corn rootworms. Annual Review of Entomology 18, 4772.
Ehlers, R.U. (2001) Mass production of entomopathogenic nematodes for plant protection. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology 56, 623633.
Ehlers, R.U. (2003) Entomopathogenic nematodes in the European biocontrol market. Communications in Agriculture and Applied Biological Sciences 68, 316.
Elsey, K.D. (1977) Parasitism of some economically important species of Chrysomelidae by nematodes of the genus Howardula. Journal of Invertebrate Pathology 29, 384385.
Gaugler, R. (1981) Biological potential of neoplectanid nematodes. Journal of Nematology 14, 126131.
Gaugler, R. (2002) Entomopathogenic nematology. Wallingford, Oxon, CABI Publishing.
Georgis, R., Kaya, H.K. & Gaugler, R. (1991) Effect of steinernematid and Heterorhabditis nematodes (Rhabditida: Steinernematidae and Heterorhabditidae) on non-target arthropods. Environmental Entomology 20, 814822.
Gouge, D.H., Shapiro-Ilan, D.I. (2003) Case studies in cotton and citrus: use of entomopathogenic nematodes. Indian Journal of Nematology 33, 91102.
Jackson, J.J. (1996) Field performance of entomopathogenic nematodes for suppression of western corn rootworm (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae). Journal of Economic Entomology 89, 366372.
Jackson, J.J., Brooks, M.A. (1989) Susceptibility and immune response of western corn rootworm larvae (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) to the entomogenous nematode, Steinernema feltiae (Rhabditida: Steinernematidae). Journal of Economic Entomology 82, 10731077.
Jackson, J.J. & Brooks, A. (1995) Parasitism of western corn rootworm larvae and pupae by Steinernema carpocapsae. Journal of Nematology 27, 1520.
Jackson, J.J., Hesler, S.L. (1996) Placement and application rate of the nematode Steinernema carpocapsae (Rhabditida: Steinernematidae) for suppression of the western corn rootworm (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae). Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 68, 461467.
Journey, A.M., Ostlie, K.R. (2000) Biological control of the western corn rootworm (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) using the entomopathogenic nematode, Steinernema carpocapsae. Environmental Entomology 29, 822831.
Kaya, H.K., Stock, S.P. (1997) Techniques in insect nematology. pp. 281324 in Lacey, L.A. (ed.) Manual of techniques in insect pathology. London, Academic Press.
Kinnear, P.R., Gray, C.D. (2000) SPSS for windows made simple East Sussex, Psychology Press.
Kiss, J., Edwards, C.R., Berger, H., Cate, P., Cean, M., Cheek, S., Derron, J., Festic, H., Furlan, L., Igrc-Barcic, J., Lammers, W., Omelyuta, V., Princzinger, G., Reynaud, P., Sivcev, I., Sivicek, P., Urek, G. & Vahala, O. (2005) Monitoring of western corn rootworm (Diabrotica v. virgifera LeConte) in Europe 1992–2003 Western corn rootworm: ecology and management 2940Vidal, S., Kuhlmann, U., Edwards, C.R.Wallingford, Oxon Published on behalf of The Nutrition Society by CABI Publishing
Krysan, J.L., Miller, T.A. (1986) Methods of study for pest Diabrotica. New York, Springer.
Kuhlmann, U., van der, Burgt W.A.C.M. (1998) Possibilities for biological control of the western corn rootworm, Diabrotica virgifera virgifera LeConte, in Central Europe. Biocontrol News and Information 19, 5968.
Kuhlmann, U., Toepfer, S. & Zhang, F. (2005) Is classical biological control against western corn rootworm in Europe a potential sustainable management strategy? pp. 263284in Vidal, S., Kuhlmann, U., Edwards, C.R. (Eds) Western corn rootworm: ecology and management. Wallingford, Oxon, CABI Publishing.
Levine, E., Oloumi, S.H. (1991) Management of diabroticite rootworms in corn. Annual Review of Entomology 36, 229255.
Nickle, W.R., Connick, W.J., Cantelo, W.W. Jr. (1994) Effects of pesta-pelletized Steinernema carpocapsae (All) on western corn rootworms and Colorado potato beetles. Journal of Nematology 26, 249250.
Peters, A., Huneke, K., Ehlers, R.U. (1996) Host finding by the entomopathogenic nematode Steinernema feltiae. IOBC/WPRS Bulletin 19, 99102.
Poinar, G.O. Jr., Evans, J.S., & Schuster, E. (1983) Field test of the entomogenous nematode, Neoaplectana carpocapsae, for control of corn rootworm larvae (Diabrotica sp., Coleoptera). Protection Ecology 5, 337342.
Riga, E., Wistlecraft, J. & Potter, J. (2001) Potential of controlling insect pests of corn using entomopathogenic nematodes. Canadian Journal of Plant Sciences 81, 783787.
Singh, P., Moore, R.F. (1985) Handbook of insect rearing. Amsterdam, Elsevier Science.
Sivcev, I., Manojlovic, B., Krnjajic, S., Dimic, N., Draganic, M., Baca, F., Kaitovic, Z., Sekulic, R. & Keresi, T. (1994) Distribution and harmful effect of Diabrotica virgifera LeConte (Coleoptera, Chrysomelidae), a new maize pest in Yugoslavia. Zastita Bilja 45, 1926.
Thurston, G.S., Yule, W.N. (1990) Control of larval northern corn rootworm (Diabrotica barberi) with two steinernematid nematode species. Journal of Nematology 22, 127131.
Toepfer, S. & Kuhlmann, U. (2004a) IPM strategies for the western corn rootworm (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae): current status and potential adoptations to the European maize productions system. Mitteilungen der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Allgemeine und Angewandte Entomologie 14, 391398.
Toepfer, S. & Kuhlmann, U. (2004b) Search for natural enemies of the invasive alien chrysomelid, Diabrotica virgifera virgifera, in Central Europe. BioControl 49, 385395.
van der Burgt, W.A.C.M., Budai, C., Fodor, A., Lucskai, A. (1998) Parasitism of western corn rootworm adults by Steinernema spp. and Heterorhabditis spp. Proceedings of the Society for Experimental and Applied Entomology 9, 165170.
Wright, R.J., Witkovski, J.F., Echtenkamp, G. & Georgis, R. (1993) Efficiency and persistence of Steinernema carpocapsae (Rhabditida: Steinernematidae) applied through center-pivot irrigation system against larval corn rootworms (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae). Journal of Economic Entomology 86, 13481354.



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed