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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Corn seed treatments versus below-ground traits

A rotary hoe in a field.

Are seed treatments effective against the same insects as below-ground traits?

Occasionally, there is confusion between the insects that are controlled with trait packages and the insects that are controlled by an insecticide seed treatment. Below-ground trait packages are only effective against corn rootworm larvae (northern, western, and Mexican) while above-ground trait packages are effective against several different species of caterpillars. Insecticides used with seed treatments provide control against several soil-dwelling insect pests as well as some above-ground pests early in the season.

What insects can current insecticide seed treatments control?

Depending on the specific insecticide class that has been applied to the seed, either a neonicotinoid (imidacloprid, clothianidin, and thiamethoxam) or a ryanoid (chlorantraniliprole) can control or suppress many common soil dwelling insect pests. Chlorantraniliprole is labeled for use at 0.25 mg active ingredient/kernel and 0.50 mg to 0.75 active ingredient/kernel. Clothianidin is labeled at three different rates of application, 0.25 mg active ingredient/kernel, 0.50 mg active ingredient/kernel, or 1.25 mg active ingredient/kernel. Both products are labeled for control of white grubs and wireworms. While chlorantraniliprole is labeled for suppression of corn seed maggot, clothianidin is labeled for control of this pest. However, chlorantraniliprole is labeled for armyworm control, while clothianidin is not. Chlorantraniliprole is labeled for cutworm control and clothianidin is specifically labeled for black cutworm control. The label of any insecticide seed treatment should be consulted prior to use to determine if the target pest is controlled.

What insects are controlled with seed treatments on Bayer corn products?

Table 1. Corn insects labeled for control or suppression with clothianidin or chlorantraniliprole and the rate of application.1

Corn Insects Controlled with Clothianidin Rate of Application (mg of active ingredient per kernel)
Corn flea beetle
Black cutworm
Seedcorn maggot
White grub (including European, Chafer larvae, May/June beetle larvae, Japanese beetle larvae) Wireworm
0.25 - 0.50
In addition to above,
Corn rootworm (including northern and western)
Corn Insects Controlled with Chlorantraniliprole
True Armyworm
Seedcorn maggot (suppression)
Larvae of Asiatic garden beetle, masked chafers, European chafer, Japanese beetle, May/June beetles
0.25 - 0.75

What insects are controlled with the SmartStax® RIB Complete®, VT Double PRO® RIB Complete®, and the Trecepta® RIB Complete® corn brand blend products?

Table 2. Corn insects labeled for control by trait package.2

Corn Insects Controlled Trait Package
Black cutworm
Corn earworm*
European corn borer
Fall armyworm
Corn rootworm larvae (including northern & western)
SmartStax® RIB Complete® Corn
Corn earworm*
European corn borer
Fall armyworm
VT Double PRO® RIB Complete® Corn
Black cutworm
Corn earworm*
European corn borer
Fall armyworm
Western bean cutworm
Trecepta® RIB Complete® Corn
*Cry1A.105 and Cry2Ab2 from B.t. controls or suppresses corn earworm.

Should resistance that has been documented to some of the B.t. proteins increase the reliance on seed treatments to help provide protection?

It depends on the species. Resistance to some B.t. proteins have been documented both in Canada and in the United States. In particular, the corn earworm (US and Ontario), European corn borer (Maritimes), Fall Armyworm (US), and western bean cutworm (US and Canada). This group of insects does not attack the corn seed or the plant early in the growing season, thus insecticide applied to the seed would not provide control in any event. However, black cutworm attacks the plant in the VE to V5 stage, and at this time there has not been documented B.t. resistance to this pest in Canada.

Corn rootworm resistance to some B.t. proteins has been documented in the US and Ontario and Quebec. Currently a higher rate (1.25 mg active ingredient/kernel) of neonicotinoid insecticides is being recommended to provide control in situations where the corn rootworm population is expected to be low or moderate.


1 Poncho® 600 FS Seed Treatment Insecticide label. Bayer CropScience.

2Baute, T. 2020. Canadian Bt corn trait tables with events and resistance status. The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food.


Bayer is a member of Excellence Through Stewardship® (ETS). Bayer products are commercialized in accordance with ETS Product Launch Stewardship Guidance, and in compliance with Bayer’s Policy for Commercialization of Biotechnology-Derived Plant Products in Commodity Crops. These products have been approved for import into key export markets with functioning regulatory systems. Any crop or material produced from these products can only be exported to, or used, processed or sold in countries where all necessary regulatory approvals have been granted. It is a violation of national and international law to move material containing biotech traits across boundaries into nations where import is not permitted. Growers should talk to their grain handler or product purchaser to confirm their buying position for these products. Excellence Through Stewardship® is a registered trademark of Excellence Through Stewardship

ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW PESTICIDE LABEL DIRECTIONS. Performance may vary from location to location and from year to year, as local growing, soil and weather conditions may vary. Growers should evaluate data from multiple locations and years whenever possible and should consider the impacts of these conditions on the grower’s fields.

Roundup Ready® 2 Technology contains genes that confer tolerance to glyphosate. Glyphosate will kill crops that are not tolerant to glyphosate. Insect control technology provided by Vip3A is utilized under license from Syngenta Crop Protection AG. Bayer, RIB Complete®, Roundup Ready®, SmartStax®, Trecepta® and VT Double PRO® are registered trademarks of Bayer Group. Used under license. Agrisure Viptera® is a registered trademark of a Syngenta group company. LibertyLink® and the Water Droplet Design are trademarks of BASF. Used under license. Herculex® is a registered trademark of Dow AgroSciences LLC. Used under license. Bayer CropScience Inc. is a member of CropLife Canada. ©2021 Bayer Group. All rights reserved. 3017_Q1_CA

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