• biomass;
  • habitat;
  • interaction;
  • pest


The ability of the biomass crop Miscanthus (Miscanthus × giganteus Greef and Deuter ex Hodkinson and Renvoize) to support larval development for both United States and European populations of the western corn rootworm, Diabrotica virgifera virgifera LeConte, suggests an avenue for interactions with corn (Zea mays L.). To provide context to survival of D. v. virgifera on Miscanthus, adult activity and oviposition of Diabrotica spp. were monitored in central Illinois in 2010–2011 in Miscanthus, corn and switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.). For D. v. virgifera, vial traps within corn plots captured 3–10 times as many adults as in Miscanthus or switchgrass, while soil samples showed females laid approximately 10 times as many eggs in corn as in the perennial grasses. Adult southern corn rootworms, Diabrotica undecimpunctata howardi Barber, were the most abundant species in 2010 and clearly preferred switchgrass as an adult habitat, with vial traps in switchgrass capturing 5–10 times as many D. u. howardi as those in corn or Miscanthus. Based on the small production areas for Miscanthus and switchgrass (and low use of both by D. v. virgifera), it seems likely that there are no current impacts of these perennial grasses on pest status of Diabrotica spp. in corn or other crops. However, adaptations by Diabrotica spp. to pest management practices suggest they could be a source for interactions between biomass and food or feed crops. Early-season soil samples did not recover eggs of D. u. howardi, but their use of switchgrass as an adult habitat suggests additional research in areas where switchgrass may be grown near peanuts, alfalfa or other hosts may be needed. Also, investigation of other candidate bioenergy crops known to support Diabrotica spp. larval development is needed to better understand the possible effects of a changing agricultural landscape on corn rootworms.