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Plantwise Technical Factsheet

banded cucumber beetle (Diabrotica balteata)

Host plants / species affected
Amaranthus (amaranth)
Arachis hypogaea (groundnut)
Brassicaceae (cruciferous crops)
Cucumis melo (melon)
Cucumis sativus (cucumber)
Cucurbita (pumpkin)
Cucurbita pepo (marrow)
Glycine max (soyabean)
Ipomoea batatas (sweet potato)
Manihot esculenta (cassava)
Oryza sativa (rice)
Phaseolus (beans)
Phaseolus lunatus (lima bean)
Phaseolus vulgaris (common bean)
Psophocarpus tetragonolobus (winged bean)
Solanum lycopersicum (tomato)
Solanum tuberosum (potato)
Sorghum bicolor (sorghum)
Triticum aestivum (wheat)
Verbesina encelioides (golden crownbeard)
Zea mays (maize)
List of symptoms/signs
Fruit  -  external feeding
Fruit  -  internal feeding
Growing point  -  external feeding
Inflorescence  -  external feeding
Leaves  -  external feeding
Roots  -  external feeding
Roots  -  internal feeding
Roots  -  reduced root system
Roots  -  stubby roots
Vegetative organs  -  external feeding
Vegetative organs  -  internal feeding
Whole plant  -  external feeding
Whole plant  -  plant dead; dieback
D. balteata can be a major pest. As larvae they eat roots and tubers exclusively, reducing plant vigour, growth rate and fruit set, as well as market value by leaving large unsightly holes in root crops such as sweet potatoes (Schalk and Jones, 1985). As adults, D. balteata can seriously damage cucurbit crops in the seedling stage by entirely consuming bitter cotyledons. Mature plants can be killed through disease transmission, even when feeding damage is light (Gergerich et al., 1986), and cucurbit fruits can be destroyed by adult boring damage either directly or through the secondary introduction of various rotting agents. Adults can also damage the leaves, silks and kernels forming at the ear tip in maize (Moreno, 1959).
Prevention and control

Cultural Control

The primary method of cultural control against rootworms is crop rotation (Metcalf et al., 1962). Unfortunately, crop rotation has limited application against D. balteata because of the broad larval host range of this species. If, however, a non-host can be rotated with a host on a yearly basis, control can approach 100%. It is also helpful if cucurbits, beans, or sweet potatoes are not planted near maize, as maize can serve as a reservoir host.

Biological Control

It has been demonstrated that excellent control of this species can be achieved with Heterorhabditis heliothidis nematodes. The cost effectiveness of this approach, however, remains problematic. Diabrotica species are also attacked by the tachinid fly, Celatoria diabroticae, but populations are almost never reduced below economically damaging levels by this fly.

Host-Plant Resistance

Several cultivars of sweet potatoes with multiple resistance traits against D. balteata in the periderm and cortex are commercially available (Jones et al., 1983; 1985; 1987a,b; Dukes et al., 1987). Maize hybrids with partial rootworm resistance have also been developed.

Chemical Control

Due to the variable regulations around (de-)registration of pesticides, we are for the moment not including any specific chemical control recommendations. For further information, we recommend you visit the following resources:

From the southern USA, through Mexico and Central America, D. balteata has the potential to reach economic injury levels on corn, sweet potatoes, watermelons or other cucurbit crops. In the USA, sweet potatoes have sustained the most serious damage from this beetle; in the 1970s and early 1980s many thousands of acres of sweet potatoes were lost each year in Arkansas and Louisiana alone (Schalk and Creighton, 1989). Throughout Mexico and Central America D. balteata joins a complex of other rootworm species in attacks on maize, though losses almost always go unreported (Krysan, 1986). Cucurbits and beans are regularly attacked as well with losses from D. balteata and other rootworm species averaging between $US 50-100 million annually (Metcalf et al., 1962). It is difficult to quantify the losses from disease transmission by D. balteata, but the sporadic feeding behaviour of this species makes it an ideal vector of a number of plant diseases, including bacterial wilt (Erwinia tracheiphila), cowpea severe mosaic comovirus, cowpea mosaic comovirus, bean rugose mosaic comovirus, quail pea mosaic comovirus, squash mosaic comovirus, cowpea chlorotic mottle bromovirus, bean mild mosaic carmovirus and muskmelon necrotic spot virus (Gergerich et al., 1986).
Related treatment support
External factsheets
University of California IPM Pest Management Guidelines, University of California, 2006, English language
NCAT ATTRA Pest Management Publications, The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), 2008, English language
Sweetpotato DiagNotes Fact Sheets, The University of Queensland, English language
PlantVillage disease guide, PlantVillage, English language
PlantVillage disease guide, PlantVillage, English language
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