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Epitrix (flea beetle) species, life cycles and detection methods (EPITRIX)

Cuthbertson, Andrew; Mathers, James; Blackbum, Lisa; Adams, Ian; Boavida, Conceição; Germain, Jean-François; Highet, Fiona; Enkegaard, Annie

The genus Epitrix Foudras (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae: Alticinae) comprises nearly 180 species worldwide. Most of the species occur in the neotropics and only 12 and 17 species are known from North America and Europe, respectively. Epitrix species feed mainly on plants from the family Solanaceae, though they may feed on other plant families when their preferential host is not available. The adults feed aboveground on the leaves of their host-plants. The females lay eggs at the base of the stem, and the larvae develop underground, on the root system. In the American continent, several Epitrix species which are very similar in appearance have been associated with potato damage. In Europe two species, E. papa and E. cucumeris, were introduced and have since become established in Portugal and Spain which requires control measures to be implemented to prevent economic damage. The main objectives of the project consortium were:

- To collect and rear Epitrix species for supply to project partners

- To make an identification key of North American and European Epitrix species and establish a reference collection of different species

- To develop and validate quick molecular detection methods, comprising a general screening assay for the Epitrix genus and specific assays for several Epitrix species

- To evaluate the overwintering possibilities for potato flea beetles under Northern European winter conditions

- To identify insecticides which are effective in controlling Epitrix species

- To investigate the biology, ecology and possibility of controlling E. papa and E. cucumeris by entomopathogenic nematodes

- To find attractants to use for monitoring of Epitrix beetles

Scientific report of the Euphresco funded project 'Epitrix (flea beetle) species, life cycles and detection methods' (EPITRIX)
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