Blueberry Leaf Beetles
(Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae)

     Leaf beetles are post-harvest pests of blueberries in the southeastern United States. Three species found in Florida are Altica sylvia Malloch, Colaspis pseudofavosa Riley, and Systena frontalis Fabricius. Colaspis pseudofavosa appears to be the dominant species in Florida. In a pilot study investigating leaf beetle species complex and feeding habits, C. pseudofavosa made up 68% of the samples. It was also found that adults prefer to feed on new growth (produced by the plant in the summer) rather than on old growth (produced in the spring). Colaspis pseudofavosa also feeds on a wide variety of host plants including wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera L.) and pecan (Carya illinoinensis (Wang)). Systena frontalis, the red-headed flea beetle, is polyphagous and has been reported feeding on cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon Aiton) and lowbush blueberry (V. angustifolium Aiton). Larvae feed on roots and adults feed on foliage. Altica sylvia causes economic damage in Georgia, but it does not appear to warrant concern in Florida.
     Feeding injury caused by S. frontalis and C. pseudofavosa differs. Systena frontalis consumes the epidermal layer without chewing completely through the leaf. This results in a bronzing effect. Colaspis pseudofavosa chews shot holes directly through leaves and feeds at leaf margins.


S. frontalis bronzing


C. pseudofavosa feeding damage


     Leaf beetles indirectly affect blueberry production and are seldom considered serious pests like those feeding on flowers or fruit. The actual economic impact of leaf beetles in Florida blueberries has not been quantified. In recent years, there have been several reports of leaf beetle damage within blueberry plantings in southeastern Georgia and Florida.


Blueberry Leaf Beetle Research

Insecticide Evaluation

     Insecticides are effective for managing leaf beetles in blueberries. In recent insecticide efficacy trials we found that Mustang Max™ (zeta-cypermethrin) reduced both the number of adult beetles and amount of feeding damage.

Objective:

  1. Evaluate the efficacy of reduced-risk insecticides for control of blueberry leaf beetle adults feeding on blueberry leaves

Blueberry Cultivar Preference

     Every blueberry farm grows multiple blueberry cultivars. Differences among cultivars may influence leaf beetle feeding. Some cultivars may be at greater risk of damage from leaf beetles.

Objectives:

  1. Determine feeding preferences of flea beetles on different varieties of cultivated blueberries
  2. Quantify the amount of leaf tissue consumed by flea beetles
  3. Identify wild hosts (non-cultivated plants fed on by flea beetles)


Blueberry Leaf Beetle Publications

  • Liburd, O.E., H.A. Arevalo, E. Andrews, and G. Krewer. 2007. Control of flea beetles with organic insecticides in southern highbush blueberries. Proc. 13th Biennial Southeast Blueberry Conference. January 5-7, 2007. Savannah, GA. 4 pp. Georgia Blueberry Growers Assoc. University of Georgia, Tifton, GA.

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