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Origin and spread

The Western Corn Rootworm (Diabrotica virgifera virgifera) is a native of North America. There are hundreds of species of the genus Diabrotica, of which Diabrotica virgifera virgifera is the only one which has established itself in Europe. The Western Corn Rootworm was introduced in the 1990s to Serbia (Yugoslavia).

D. virgifera was first detected in July 1992 near the Belgrade International Airport. Since its introduction, D. virgifera has been spreading in Europe and invaded other countries (WCR in Europe 2011). In 2007, the pest was first detected in Germany, in Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria. In 2010, the first beetles were captured in North Rhine-Westphalia and in 2011 in Hesse and Rhineland-Palatinate. 

In General, Diabrotica can spread in two different ways: natural spreading by active flight of the beetle and diversion by means of transportation.


The beetles are good flyers; they can cover single flights up to 20 km. In areas where intensive maize production (high amount of maize monoculture) is carried out, the average spreading rates expected reach 80 km, whereas in areas with less maize production the spreading rate expected is about 20 km per year. The natural spreading of the pest of up to 100 km per year is possible by distance flights if no containment measures are undertaken. In areas without maize propagation the spreading of Diabrotica can even stop. The natural spreading of Diabrotica in Europe can't be stopped, but it can be significantly minimized by containment measures.


Diabrotica can spread, even via continents, by hitchhiking by means of transportation like airplanes, trains, inland navigation, lorries and tourism. Very frequently, the first captures of the Western Corn Rootworm were in vicinity of airports, which proves airplanes as important transportation. In addition to being introduced from infestation areas in Southeast Europe, the Rootworm can also be reintroduced at anytime from North America.


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