Larval western bean cutworm feeding damage encourages the development of Gibberella ear rot on field corn.
A 2 year study was conducted to determine whether western bean cutworm (Striacosta albicosta Smith) (WBC) larval feeding damage increases severity of the fungal disease Gibberella ear rot [Fusarium graminearum (Schwein.) Petch] in field corn (Zea mays L.). The effect of a quinone-outside inhibiting fungicide, pyraclostrobin, on Gibberella ear rot severity and mycotoxin production, both with and without WBC pressure, was also evaluated. The impact of each variable was assessed individually and in combination to determine the effect of each upon ear disease severity.There was a positive correlation between the presence of WBC larvae in field corn and Gibberella ear rot severity under inoculated conditions in the 2 years of the experiment. An application of pyraclostrobin did not impact Gibberella ear rot development when applied at corn growth stage R1 (silks first emerging).Feeding damage from WBC larvae significantly increases the development of F. graminearum in field corn. We conclude that an effective integrated management strategy for Gibberella ear rot should target the insect pest first, in an effort to limit disease severity and subsequent mycotoxin production by F. graminearum in kernels. © 2016 Society of Chemical Industry.