Western Corn Rootworm

Western Corn Rootworm - Diabrotica virgifera

What was the mystery behind the mottled elytra?

Only the most serious corn pest in North America. Diabrotica virgifera is not only tremendously damaging to crop yields, it is also rather clever. Farmers have traditionally fought this insect by rotating corn out with soybeans every year. The insect lays its eggs in the soil, and in rotated fields the emerging young rootworms find themselves lost in a sea of inedible plants. Crop rotation was more effective than pesticides for keeping the rootworms in check. Yet some populations adapted, flying to soy fields to lay eggs so their offspring catch next year’s corn, and others have evolved resistance to genetically-modified corn. And whatever we come up with next? They’ll beat that, too.

A corn rootworm visits a soybean plant. Evolution is smarter than we are.

Anyway. 2 points to Laurie Knight for being the first to guess the order, and 8 points to Ainsley S for the genus & species.

Western Corn Rootworm

[thanks to Manfredo Seufferheld for the beetles!]