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Plantwise Technical Factsheet

cabbage stem flea beetle (Psylliodes chrysocephala)

Host plants / species affected
Brassica napus var. napus (rape)
Brassica nigra (black mustard)
Brassica oleracea (cabbages, cauliflowers)
Brassica rapa subsp. oleifera (turnip rape)
Brassicaceae (cruciferous crops)
Nasturtium officinale (watercress)
Raphanus sativus (radish)
Sinapis alba (white mustard)
Sinapis arvensis (wild mustard)
Tropaeolum majus (common nasturtium)
List of symptoms/signs
Growing point  -  distortion
Growing point  -  external feeding
Growing point  -  internal feeding; boring
Leaves  -  abnormal forms
Leaves  -  external feeding
Leaves  -  frass visible
Leaves  -  necrotic areas
Stems  -  distortion
Stems  -  internal feeding
Whole plant  -  distortion; rosetting
Whole plant  -  external feeding
Whole plant  -  frass visible
Whole plant  -  internal feeding
Whole plant  -  plant dead; dieback
The adults chew holes in the leaves. The larvae usually mine the lower petioles, moving from ageing to healthy tissue, but will move to the stem and destroy the growing point if larval numbers are large or if the rosette is poorly developed (Ebbe-Nyman, 1952; Bonnemaison and Jourdheuil, 1954; Williams and Carden, 1961). Severe larval attack can distort the plant and cause the epidermis to peel, leading to the death of the plant (Williams and Carden, 1961). As well as causing direct damage, attack by P. chrysocephala is associated with fungal (Leptosphaeria maculans and Phoma lingam) and bacterial (Erwinia) infection, (Bonnemaison and Jourdheuil, 1954; Williams and Carden, 1961; Newman, 1984; Nilsson, 1990). The beetle may transmit turnip crinkle virus (Bonnemaison, 1965). Plants infested with the cabbage stem flea beetle are also more susceptible to frost damage (Winfield, 1992).

Prevention and control

Because an autumn application of pyrethroid is relatively inexpensive, fields are often sprayed prophylactically against the cabbage stem flea beetle/aphids, even though treatment is rarely justified (Lane and Cooper, 1989; Alford et al., 1991). In 1998, 37,686 ha were treated against this beetle in the UK (Garthwaite and Thomas, 1998). Five synthetic pyrethroids are currently recommended for use against the cabbage stem flea beetle in the UK (Whitehead, 2000).

The cabbage stem flea beetle is a pest of most brassica seed crops (Winfield, 1992). It is a serious pest of winter rape in Sweden, France, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the UK. (Bromand, 1990). In the UK, it is the most important establishment pest of rape, leading to yield losses of up to 20% (Lane and Cooper, 1989). Larval infestation causes an overall loss in vigour leading to lower yields even at very low larval densities (Nilsson, 1990).

Related treatment support
External factsheets
HGCA On-Farm Information, Home-Grown Cereals Authority (HGCA), 2007, English language
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