How does Bt work?
Bt has to be eaten to cause mortality. The Bt toxin dissolve in the high pH insect gut and become active. The toxins then attack the gut cells of the insect, punching holes in the lining. The Bt spores germinate in the insect causing death within a couple days.
Even though the toxin does not kill the insect immediately, treated plant parts will not be damaged because the insect stops feeding within hours. Bt spores do not spread to other insects or cause disease outbreaks on their own.
Bt action is very specific. Different strains of Bt are specific to different receptors in insect gut wall. Bt toxicity depends on recognizing receptors, damage to the gut by the toxin occurs upon binding to a receptor. Each insect species possesses different types of receptors that will match only certain toxin proteins, like a lock to a key.
It is because of this that farmers have to be careful to match the target pest species with a particular Bt toxin protein which is specific for that insect.