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Phased-out Bt corn variety dramatically cut growth rate of black swallowtail caterpillars

than other varieties and has been linked to a reduced survival of monarchs at concentrations naturally occurring in and near cornfields. (Registration of event 176 expires this year and renewal is not expected, the authors noted. Less than 1 percent of U.S. corn acreage in 2000 contained event 176.)

Researchers put 20 potted parsnip plants and 25 potted milkweeds at intervals ranging from one-half meter to 7 meters from the corn when it began shedding pollen in late July. Pollen levels were monitored. Black swallowtails were released to feed on the parsnip and the monarchs on the milkweed, which attracted more predators.

The disappearance of monarch larvae was rapid over the next six days, but the disappearance was not affected by proximity to the crop, Zangerl said. The death rate was lower among black swallowtails and again unaffected by proximity. However, he said, the growth rate of the swallowtails varied dramatically; larvae 7 meters from the corn were three times as large as the larvae located one-half meter away from the corn.

UI researchers last year had reported high death rates of black swallowtail larvae fed high concentrations of event 176-containing corn pollen in laboratory tests. The new study shows that much lower levels can cause significant mortality in the laboratory.

The earlier study also noted that a widely used Bt corn variety containing Monsanto event 810 had no adverse affect on black swallowtails living in weeds near cornfields (see http://www.news.uiuc.edu/news/00/0605btcorn.html).

Results of this new study tell us again that careful event selection by producers is advisable, Berenbaum said. Our findings also suggest that much more research is needed on each new Bt variety to make sure non-target species will not be adversely affected once it is planted in the field.


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Contact: Jim Barlow
b-james3@uiuc.edu
217-333-5802
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
10-Sep-2001


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