German monitoring for western corn rootworm, an insect pest that can decimate corn yields, found fewer adult bugs than at the same time last year, industry group Deutsches Maiskomitee e.V. reported.
As of July 28, 129 beetles had been caught in the region of Baden-Wuerttemberg compared with more than 1,500 a year ago, the Bonn-based group wrote in a report dated that day on its website. In Bavaria, there was one reported finding.
Corn rootworm larvae gnaw the roots of their host plant, causing as much as $1 billion a year in damages for U.S. corn farmers on control costs and yield losses, according to research by the University of Wisconsin. German losses are expected to reach 25 million euros ($31 million), according to Deutsches Maiskomitee.
“The numbers caught in Baden-Wuerttemberg for now are clearly below the previous year’s level,” the group wrote. It said it’s been tracking rootworm numbers since 2007, when the pest was first found in Germany.
The insect was introduced in Europe in the Balkan region in the 1990s, according to Deutsches Maiskomitee. The western corn rootworm has spread across central Europe and into northern Italy and eastern France, and last year the first specimens were caught in Russia, according to Purdue University.