Documenting and Expanding Biological Control of the Cereal Leaf Beetle in Small Grains with a Parasitic Wasp

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The cereal leaf beetle (Oulema melanopus) is considered a primary pest of concern for small grains in NY, potentially causing significant yield loss and/or poor grain or forage quality. Losses to this pest can be sporadic, but are more prevalent in some regions than others. As we experience a perceived resurgence of this pest and subsequent damage in NY, growers have become more reliant on insecticides to mitigate losses. The necessity of some of these insecticide applications is questionable, and it’s important to consider other potential management options. With the knowledge that a program in the 1970’s focused on releasing a biological control parasitic wasp (Tetrastichus julis) in NY for managing this pest, we wanted to determine if the parasitoid is still present in NYS, at what levels, and whether we could increase populations of this biocontrol organism in a region that suffers annual losses to the cereal leaf beetle. A pilot study was conducted in 2019 to survey for the presence of the T. julis wasp in six counties in western and central NY. The parasitoid was detected at low levels at all locations where cereal leaf beetle larvae were collected and assayed, with a ‘hot spot’ near Ithaca in Tompkins County. Cereal leaf beetle larvae with known levels of parasitism by T. julis were released at the Musgrave research farm, near Aurora in Cayuga County, an area that frequently experiences losses to this pest. In future years, we will continue to survey fields with cereal leaf beetle infestations, determine parasitism levels and release parasitized populations at the Musgrave research farm. We will also continue to monitor parasitism levels at the research farm to determine any positive impacts such as increasing biocontrol and reducing cereal leaf beetle damage.

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NYS IPM Type: Project Report


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New York State Integrated Pest Management Program


Agricultural IPM; Field Crops; Small Grains; Biocontrol


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