Pest categorisation of Diabrotica virgifera zeae

Corn pest, Mexican corn rootworm, maize, pest risk, plant health, plant pest, quarantine
First published in the EFSA Journal
12. November 2019
26. September 2019
Scientific Opinion


The EFSA Panel on Plant Health performed a pest categorisation of Diabrotica virgifera zeae (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae), the Mexican corn rootworm, for the EU. This is one of two subspecies of D. virgifera which occurs in Central America, Mexico and central southern parts of the USA (Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico). The preferred larval host is maize (Zea mays) roots, although larvae can feed on the roots of sorghum and other grass species. Adults feed on the leaves, silks, immature seeds of maize, and pollen of up to 63 plant genera. Eggs are laid in the soil of maize fields in late summer/early autumn and hatch in late spring. Adults are found in and near maize fields from May until frosts appear later in the year. D. virgifera zeae is univoltine except where maize is grown continuously when there can be multiple overlapping generations each year. In the Americas, D. virgifera zeae is considered a key maize pest. D. virgifera zeae is regulated by Directive 2000/29/EC (Annex IAI). A general prohibition of soil from most third countries prevents the entry of immature stages of D. virgifera zeae. However, adults could be carried on sweetcorn or green maize. Maize is grown widely across the EU, but establishment may be limited to warmer parts of southern EU. Should it establish in the EU, impact on maize yields is anticipated. Phytosanitary measures are available to inhibit entry of this pest. D. virgifera zeae satisfies the criteria, which are within the remit of EFSA to assess for it to be regarded as a potential Union quarantine pest. D. virgifera zeae does not meet the criteria of occurring in the EU, nor plants for planting being the principal means of spread, for it to be regarded as a potential Union regulated non‐quarantine pest.

Panel members at the time of adoption

Claude Bragard, Katharina Dehnen‐Schmutz, Francesco Di Serio, Paolo Gonthier, Marie‐Agnès Jacques, Josep Anton Jaques Miret, Annemarie Fejer Justesen, Alan MacLeod, Christer Sven Magnusson, Panagiotis Milonas, Juan A Navas‐Cortes, Stephen Parnell, Roel Potting, Philippe L Reignault, Hans‐Hermann Thulke, Wopke Van der Werf, Antonio Vicent, Jonathan Yuen and Lucia Zappalà.
Panel on Plant Health
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EFSA Journal 2019;17(11):5858
Question Number
On request from
European Commission