Submitted to: BARC Poster Day
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: February 26, 1999
Publication Date: N/A
Invasive weeds, such as leafy spurge, cause great economic losses each year in the United States. Control of such weeds by plant feeding insects holds great promise as a way to reduce or eliminate these losses. Flea beetles, in particular, are one group of insects that feed on these plants and have been useful in biological control. The genus Aphthona Chevrolat is one of the largest of the flea beetle genera with more than 300 species distributed in the Palearctic, Oriental, Afrotropical and Australian regions. Most Aphthona species feed on Euphorbiaceae, especially on leafy spurge. Six Palearctic species of Aphthona have already been released in North America as biological control agents of these weeds (White 1996), but additional species are needed to control the weeds in a variety of habitats. For the purpose of collecting new, potential biological control agents, field work was conducted in Russia in June and July of 1998. Three emajor regions were explored: Krasnodar (Precaucasian lowland), Novosibirsk (Western Siberia), and Irkutsk (Eastern Siberia). During this work a new species of Aphthona was discovered and its larvae were reared in the Biological Control Group, Zoological Institute, St. Petersburg, Russia. Also ten previously described Aphthona species were collected. Six of them are locally abundant and have ability to control leafy spurge in natural conditions. Each of them has great potential to be a successful biological control agent. To the best of our knowledge this was the first attempt to create a multidisciplinary team including a systematist, specialist in the group. These four weeks of explorations in Russia yielded as many potential biological control agents as the previous 15 years of explorations in Europe, Russia, and China.