Field and laboratory studies were conducted in 2000 and 2001 to determine the feasibility of mass marking western corn rootworm adults, Diabrotica virgifera virgifera LeConte, with RbCl in the field. Results showed that application of rubidium (Rb) in solution to both the soil (1 g Rb/plant) and whorl (1 g Rb/plant) of corn plants was optimal for labeling western corn rootworm adults during larval development. Development of larvae on Rb-enriched corn with this technique did not significantly influence adult dry weight or survival. Rb was also highly mobile in the plant. Application of Rb to both the soil and the whorl resulted in median Rb concentrations in the roots (5,860 ppm) that were 150-fold greater than concentrations in untreated roots (38 ppm) 5 wk after treatment. Additionally, at least 90% of the beetles that emerged during the first 3 wk were labeled above the baseline Rb concentration (5 ppm dry weight) determined from untreated beetles. Because emergence was 72% complete at this time, a significant proportion of the population had been labeled. Results from laboratory experiments showed that labeled beetles remained distinguishable from unlabeled beetles for up to 4 d postemergence. The ability to efficiently label large numbers of beetles under field conditions and for a defined period with virtually no disruption of the population provides an unparalleled opportunity to conduct mark-recapture experiments for quantifying the short-range, intrafield movement of adult corn rootworms.
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Vol. 96 • No. 6