Abstract Seasonal adaptations of populations of the southwestern corn borer, Diatraea grandiosella, obtained from south-central Mexico (19°N latitude) and southeast Missouri (37°N latitude) were compared. Day length and temperature were found to serve as environmental cues to programme the larval diapause of both populations, but different critical values were observed. The critical day length for diapause induction was about 13 hr light/day for Mexican larvae and about 15 hr light/day for Missouri larvae, and was relatively stable at 20 to 30°C. Mexican larvae displayed a less-intense diapause than did Missouri larvae. Some diapausing Mexican larvae maintained at 25 or 30°C pupated in about 15 days, regardless of the day length to which they were exposed. The rate of diapause development of Mexican larvae was high at day lengths between 14 hr and 16 hr, whereas that of Missouri larvae was accelerated at day lengths of 16 hr at 25 and 30°C. Diapause development of Mexican larvae was virtually unaffected by chilling at 10°C, whereas that of Missouri larvae continued at a low rate at 10°C. Selection of Mexican larvae for diapause showed that only four generations were needed to significantly increase the incidence of diapause.