Thursday, 23 June 2016

Weekly Update (June 22, 2016; Wk 07) - Cereal leaf beetle

Cereal leaf beetle (Oulema melanopus) – Back in May, the cereal leaf beetle (CLB) bioclimatic model was utilized to help predict when eggs and larvae might appear in fields along with its parasitoid, Tetrastichus julis

Recall the following (posted May 25, 2016) - Predicted dates of peak emergence of CLB eggs and larvae:

Lifecycle and Damage:
Adult: Adult cereal leaf beetles (CLB) have shiny bluish-black wing-covers (Fig. 1). The thorax and legs are light orange-brown. Females (4.9 to 5.5 mm) are slightly larger than the males (4.4 to 5 mm). Adult beetles overwinter in and along the margins of grain fields in protected places such as in straw stubble, under crop and leaf litter, and in the crevices of tree bark. They favour sites adjacent to shelter belts, deciduous and conifer forests. They emerge in the spring once temperature reaches 10-15 ºC and are active for about 6 weeks. They usually begin feeding on grasses, then move into winter cereals and later into spring cereals.  
Figure 1. Adult Oulema melanopus (~4.4-5.5 mm long).

Egg: Eggs are laid approximately 14 days following the emergence of the adults. Eggs are laid singly or in pairs along the mid vein on the upper side of the leaf and are cylindrical, measuring 0.9 mm by 0.4 mm, and yellowish in colour. Eggs darken to black just before hatching.  

Larva: The larvae hatch in about 5 days and feed for about 3 weeks, passing through 4 growth stages (instars). The head and legs are brownish-black; the body is yellowish. Larvae are usually covered with a secretion of mucus and fecal material, giving them a shiny black, wet appearance (Fig. 2).  When the larva completes its growth, it drops to the ground and pupates in the soil. 

Figure 2.  Larval stage of Oulema melanopus with characteristic feeding damage visible on leaf.

Pupa: Pupal colour varies from a bright yellow when it is first formed, to the colour of the adult just before emergence. The pupal stage lasts 2 - 3 weeks. Adult beetles emerge and feed for a couple of weeks before seeking overwintering sites. There is one generation per year.

Give priority to following factors when selecting monitoring sites:
   □ Choose fields and sections of the fields with past or present damage symptoms.
   □ Choose fields that are well irrigated (leaves are dark green in color), including young, lush crops. Areas of a field that are under stress and not as lush (yellow) are less likely to support CLB. 
   □ Monitor fields located along riparian corridors, roads and railroads. 
   □ Survey field areas that are close to brush cover or weeds, easy to access, or are nearby sheltered areas such as hedge rows, forest edges, fence lines, etc.

Focus your site selection on the following host plant priorities:
   □ First - winter wheat. If no winter wheat is present then;
   □ Second - other cereal crops (barley, wheat, oats, and rye). If no cereal crops are present then;
   □ Third - hay crops. If no hay crops or cereal crops are present then;
   □ Fourth - ditches and water corridors

Sweep-net Sampling for Adults and Larvae:
 ● A sweep is defined as a one pass (from left to right, executing a full 180 degrees) through the upper foliage of the crop using a 37.5 cm diameter sweep-net. 
 ● A sample is defined as 100 sweeps taken at a moderate walking pace collected 4-5 meters inside the border of a field.  
 ● At each site, four samples should be collected, totaling 400 sweeps per site.  The contents of each sample should be visually inspected for life stages of CLB and all suspect specimens should be retained for identification.  
 ● Because the CLB larvae are covered in a sticky secretion, they are often covered in debris and are very difficult to see within a sweep-net sample. 
 ● To help determine the presence of CLB, place the contents of the sweep net into a large plastic bag for observation.

Visual Inspection:
Both the adults and larvae severely damage plants by chewing out long strips of tissue between the veins of leaves (Fig. 2), leaving only a thin membrane. When damage is extensive, leaves turn whitish. 

Fact sheets for CLB are published by the province of Alberta and available from the Prairie Pest Monitoring Network. Also access the Oulema melanopus page from the new "Field crop and forage pests and their natural enemies in western Canada - Identification and management field guide".