Beet Armyworm Invasion


Key Content Areas: Biotic-Abiotic Interactions, Agriculture, Food Production, Scientific Inquiry, Evolution, Natural Variation, Unity and Diversity, Climate Change
Contributors: T. Fleming, M. Kitchen, V. Tzin, B. Sims, G. Jander
Levels: 7-12; Undergraduate
Time Needed: 240 minutes; 4-5 weeks

Plant scientists would like to identify varieties of corn that can withstand damage from the Beet Armyworm, a major agricultural pest for many crops, better than other varieties, and are working to understand how this occurs. Because of a high degree of diversity within the corn species, there is potential for traditional or genetic breeding to produce varieties with natural resistance to insect damage. Farmers across the globe rely on pesticides to protect crop yield from insects, and natural genetic diversity and plant breeding could help reduce this need. Disruptions in climate patterns could increase the range of pests like the Beet Armyworm, making now an important time to be collecting data about natural resistance. In this project-based learning lab, classrooms grow different lines of (provided) corn seeds, apply beet armyworms to the plants, and measure the damage caused by the insects to identify lines that may have natural resistance. Classrooms report their data back to the Jander Lab, contributing to the data collection for this research project.

Beet Army Worm Invation

Download Curriculum

Links will open in a new window or download as a PDF. Contact us for editable versions of these files to customize for your classroom.
Full Manual (includes all files except data sheet and image, as follows)
Teacher Manual
Student Lab
ImageJ Instructions
ImageJ Practice Caterpillar Image
Download ImageJ
Beet Armyworm – Maize Data Sheet

Pre- and Postlab Resources

Maize Research and Resources

Panzea: The Maize Diversity Project 
A group of scientists working on an NSF-funded project called “Biology of Rare Alleles in Maize and Its Wild Relatives.” With links to data and education/outreach efforts.

International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center
Collaborates with national agricultural research institutions, nongovernment and community-based organizations, seed sector organizations, regional research networks, other CGIAR centers, private companies, and advanced research institutions to tackle maize production on a global scale by providing farmers the best seed, agronomy, and information needed to increase yields.

National Corn Growers Association

2015 US Corn Report
Crop progress, supply and demand, historical information

2015 World of Corn Report

National Corn Growers Association

Beet Armyworm

Entomological Society of America 
Time lapse video of eggs hatching
General Insect Teacher Resources

University of Florida
Fact sheet on Beet armyworm, three good photos of developmental stages

Plant Defenses

Plant Resistance against Herbivory (article)
Apparency, structural defenses, chemical defenses, glossary of terms

An Overview of Plant Defenses against Pathogens and Herbivores (article)
Plant disease and resistance, structural defenses, chemical defenses, proteins and enzymes, additional plant defenses

Subscribe to BTI's LabNotes Newsletter!



Boyce Thompson Institute
533 Tower Rd.
Ithaca, NY 14853

Copyright © 2023 | Boyce Thompson Institute | All rights reserved | Privacy Policy | Cookie Policy