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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: PROACTIVE MANAGEMENT FOR SUSTAINABLE RANGELAND PRODUCTION Title: Inundative Release of Aphthona spp. Flea Beetles (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) as a Biological “Herbicide” on Leafy Spurge (Euphorbia esula L.) in Riparian Areas.

Authors
item Progar, R -
item Markin, G -
item Milan, J -
item Barbouletos, T -
item Rinella, Matthew

Submitted to: Journal of Economic Entomology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: October 13, 2009
Publication Date: April 1, 2010
Citation: Progar, R.A., Markin, G., Milan, J., Barbouletos, T., Rinella, M.J. 2010. Inundative Release of Aphthona spp. Flea Beetles (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) as a Biological “Herbicide” on Leafy Spurge (Euphorbia esula L.) in Riparian Areas. Journal of Economic Entomology. 103(2):242-248.

Interpretive Summary: Releases of large quantities of beneficial insects are frequently used to suppress pest insects, but not commonly attempted as a method of weed biological control because of the difficulty in obtaining the required large numbers of insects. The successful establishment of a complex of flea beetles for the control of leafy spurge provided an easily collectable source of these natural enemies that enabled us to attempt inundative release as a possible leafy spurge control method in a sensitive ecological zone where herbicides are restricted. Our target weed populations were small isolated patches of leafy spurge along three streams in southwestern, central and northeastern Idaho. Riparian areas are high-value environmentally sensitive habitats where use of many herbicides is prohibited and flea beetles are often unable to become permanently established because periodic spring flooding drowns the overwintering larvae in the soil. This study assessed the impact of inundative releases of 10 and 50 beetles per leafy spurge flowering stem of a mix of two species of flea beetles over two consecutive years on leafy spurge and associated vegetation. Results indicate that releasing 10beetles per flowering stem had inconclusive, potentially small negative effects on leafy spurge biomass, crown, stem, and seedling density. Alternatively, based on point estimates, releasing 50 beetles per flowering stem resulted in an approximate 80% reduction of biomass, crown and stem density and 60% reduction of seedling density, compared to untreated plots. In contrast to leafy spurge, associated vegetation did not conclusively respond to beetle release, indicating that it may take more than two years for desired riparian vegetation to respond to reductions in leafy spurge competition. This study showed that releases of large numbers of flea beetles provide a viable option for reducing leafy spurge abundance in riparian corridors.

Technical Abstract: Inundative releases of beneficial insects are frequently used to suppress pest insects, but not commonly attempted as a method of weed biological control because of the difficulty in obtaining the required large numbers of insects. The successful establishment of a complex of Aphthona spp. flea beetles for the control of leafy spurge provided an easily collectable source of these natural enemies that enabled us to attempt inundative release as a possible leafy spurge control method in a sensitive ecological zone where chemical control is restricted. Our target weed populations were small isolated patches I of leafy spurge along three streams in southwestern, central and northeastern Idaho. Riparian areas are high-value environmentally sensitive habitats where use of many herbicides is prohibited and flea beetles are often unable to become permanently established because periodic spring flooding drowns the overwintering larvae in the soil. This study assessed the impact of inundative releases of 10 and 50 beetles per leafy spurge flowering stem of a mix of Aphthona nigriscutus, and A. lacertosa (87 percent A. lacertosa, and 13percent A. nigriscutis) over two consecutive years on leafy spurge and associated vegetation. Results indicate that releasing 10beetles per flowering stem had inconclusive, potentially small negative effects on leafy spurge biomass, crown, stem, and seedling density. Alternatively, based on point estimates, releasing 50 beetles per flowering stem resulted in an approximate 80% reduction of biomass, crown and stem density and 60%

Last Modified: 11/28/2014
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