PULLMAN, Wash. — Washington State University Extension is asking farmers for help in finding some live adult cereal leaf beetles.
First found in Washington in 1999, the crop pest has been identified in Spokane, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Ferry, Lincoln, Adams, Grant, Kittitas, Franklin, Walla Walla, Columbia, Garfield, Asotin, Whitman, Lewis and Clark counties.
Both adults and the larval stages feed on most cereal and grass crops and frequently cause economic damage, according to Diana Roberts, WSU Spokane County Extension educator.
Roberts is collecting live, adult cereal leaf beetles from farm fields as part of a biocontrol project.
“The biocontrols we are using are two species of wasps, which are tiny and harmless to people, pets, livestock and other plants and animals,” Roberts said. “They lay their eggs in the larvae or eggs of cereal leaf beetle and prevent further development of the pest.
“We need the adult beetles to send to a lab in Colorado where they will lay eggs that the wasp will then parasitize. The parasitized eggs are sent back to us, and we release them in field insectaries around the state. We have field insectaries at Nine Mile Falls, Peone Prairie, Colville, Deep Creek, Warden and Connell.
An adult cereal leaf beetle is about a quarter inch long with blue/black, shiny, rectangular abdomens. The legs and prothorax must be red-orange. If not, it is a different, beneficial species. The beetles overwinter as adults and emerge in spring when temperatures reach around 50 degrees for several days. They will be found first in winter wheat, where they seldom cause much damage, and later on spring wheat, barley or oats.
To report an infestation, please call Diana Roberts, WSU Spokane County Extension, at (509) 477-2167 or Andy McGuire, WSU Grant County Extension, at (509)-754-2011 ext. 413. WSU personnel will come out to farms to collect the insects.
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