Christina DiFonzo

Christina DiFonzo

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Professor & Field Crops Entomologist
Saginaw Valley Research and Extension Center



PhD - University of Minnesota, Entomology (1995)
MS - University of Minnesota, Entomology (1993)
BS - Mercyhurst College, Biology (1987)

Field Crops Entomology Program


I grew up in northwestern Pennsylvania and attended Mercyhurst College in Erie, PA for a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and a minor in English literature. My Masters and PhD degrees in entomology were from the University of Minnesota. Both degrees focused on the epidemiology and management of aphid-vectored viruses of commercial and seed potato. After graduation, I was a BARD Postdoctoral Fellow at the Volcani Center, the Agricultural Research Organization for Israel, where I did further work on plant viruses and aphids. In 1996, I started as the Pesticide Education Coordinator and field crops entomologist at MSU, transitioning to full-time in field crops 2002 after the discovery of soybean aphid in North America. My fondness for aphids earned me the nickname ‘Aphid Queen’.

Current assignment: Teaching 20% | Research 15% | Extension 65%

Program Description

Extension and Research

Responsible for solving problems, providing management recommendations, and conducting research on insects in field crops in Michigan. Specific crop responsibilities include corn, soybean, dry beans, small grain, forage crops, sugar beets, and hemp. Extension education in the last decade focused on soybean aphid, western bean cutworm, Bt resistance, and neonicotinoid seed treatments, in addition to general pest management. Another responsibility is to maintain and update the Handy Bt Trait Table for the US. Recent research projects focus on Asiatic garden beetle, western bean cutworm, and stink bugs. Additional expertise in genetically modified field crops (especially Bt corn), aphid biology and identification, and pesticide regulation.


  • ENT 404 - Fundamentals of Entomology, annually. This is the general entomology course taken by many students in the Colleges of Ag & Natural Resources and Natural Science.
  • ENT 477 - Pesticides in Management Systems, fall of even years. This course provides an overview of pesticide modes of action, registration, regulation and issues, targeted at upperclassmen and graduate students.
  • Serve on approximately 15-20 graduate student committees per year, usually as the outside member for students in agronomy, weed science, soil science, and plant pathology.


  • Field crops

Professional Experience

  • 1996-Present - Field Crops Entomologist, Michigan State University
  • 2002-Present - Adjunct faculty member, University of Guelph, Ontario
  • 2018-present - Adjunct faculty member, The Ohio State University

Selected Publications

  • Gutiérrez-Moreno, R., D. Mota-Sanchez, C. A. Blanco, M. E. Whalon, H. Terán-Santofimio, J. C. Rodriguez-Maciel, and C.D. DiFonzo. 2018. Field-evolved resistance of the fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) to conventional insecticides in Mexico and Puerto Rico. J. Econ. Ent.

  • Lagos-Kutz, D., B. Potter, C.D. DiFonzo, H. Russell, G. Hartman. 2018. Two aphid species, Phorodon cannabis and Rhopalosiphum rufiabdominale, identified as potential pests of industrial hemp, Cannabis sativa L., in the U.S. Midwest. Crop, Forage and Turfgrass Management. doi:10.2134/cftm2018.04.0032

  • Musser, F. R., 1, A. L. Catchot, , S. Conley, J. A. Davis, C. DiFonzo, J. Greene, G. M. Lorenz, D. Owens, T. Reed, D. D. Reisig, P. Roberts, T. Royer, N. Seiter, S. D. Stewart, S. Taylor, K. Tilmon and M. O. Way. 2018.  2017 Soybean Insect Losses in the United States. Midsouth Entomologist 11:1-23.

  • Zhang, S., Z. Wen, C. DiFonzo; Q. Song and D. Wang. 2018. Pyramiding different aphid-resistance genes in elite soybean germplasm to combat dynamic aphid populations. Molecular Breeding 38: 29.

  • DiFonzo, C.D., M.R. Jewett, and M.L. Nagelkirk. 2015. Foliar fertilization does not reduce soybean aphid populations, change plant nitrogen and potassium, or protect yield from aphid feeding, under non-limiting nutrient conditions. Crop, Forage, & Turfgrass Management 1: 1:-doi:10.2134/cftm2014.0071.

  • Kates, T. Michael, C, D. DiFonzo, and Dechun Wang. 2015. Soybean aphid populations on aphid resistant and susceptible soybean lines growing under potassium deficiency. Crop, Forage, & Turfgrass Management 1: 1:-doi:10.2134/cftm2014.0076.

  • DiFonzo, C.D., M.M. Chludzinski, M.R. Jewett, and F. Springborn. 2015. Impact of western bean cutworm (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) infestation and insecticide treatments on damage and marketable yield of Michigan dry beans. J. Econ. Entomol. 108(2): 583-591

    Recommended Links

  • MSU Extension field crops team
  • The Handy Bt Trait Table