Submitted to: Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: December 10, 1997
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Flea beetles are important to U.S. agriculture both as crop and as biological control agents against weeds. Aphthona is one of the largest and most morphologically diverse genera of flea beetles (Alticinae), containing more than 500 available species names. The majority of Aphthona species, both larval and adult stages, feed on Euphorbiaceae which, along with the tendency towards monophagy, makes them ideal candidates for use in the biological control of leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula). At least 6 different species have already been released in North America for this purpose and 3 additional species are currently under consideration. This study presents a key to the species groups in Aphthona, and descriptions and a key to species of the Aphthona crypta of the Aphthona/leafy spurge project: from foreign exploration to acquire new candidate control agents, to quality control of laboratory cultures, and follow-up assessment of the spread and impact of the released Aphthona species. Proper identification of these agents and an understanding of their relationships is crucial to the practice of environmentally safe biological control of leafy spurge. This information will be used by scientist working on weed biological control and to taxonomists who must identify flea beetles for action agencies.
Three new species are described (A. cryptomorpha, A. pseudocrypta and schereri) from the Oriental region. Key to species groups in Aphthona, discussion of their relationships and a key to species of Aphthona crypta group are provided.