Leafy Spurge

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Oberea erythrocephala
larva in root crown
Aphthona spp. © L.L. Berry

In 1989, two leafy spurge biocontrol agents, Aphthona flava and Aphthona nigriscutis, were obtained from collections in Canada and Europe. The adults of these flea beetles defoliate the spurge plants while the larvae feed on the roots. In 1991, a third flea beetle species, Aphthona cyparissiae, was obtained from Canada and released. In 1992, a long-horned beetle, Oberea erythrocephala, was obtained and released. The adults of the beetle feed on the aboveground parts of the plant while the larvae bore into the stem and root crown. In 1993, a fourth flea beetle, Aphthona czwalinae\lacertosa, was obtained and released in the State. The larvae of A. czwalinae\lacertosa feed on the roots and the adults feed on the leaves of leafy spurge. A final flea beetle species, Aphthona abdominalis, was released in 1996. This is the smallest of the flea beetles and causes similar damage to the plants as the other Aphthona species. Aphthona nigriscutis, A. cyparissiae and A. czwalinae\lacertosa have all become established at field insectary sites and can be collected in large numbers. These beneficial organisms are now available for redistribution in the state and can be obtained by requesting releases through the Department of Agriculture.