Population densities of corn flea beetle (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) and incidence of stewart's wilt in sweet corn

K. A. Cook, R. A. Weinzierl, J. K. Pataky, P. D. Esker, F. W. Nutter

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11 Scopus citations


To quantify populations of the corn flea beetle, Chaetocnema pulicaria Melsheimer (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae), and refine estimates of a threshold for its control to prevent Stewart's wilt caused by Erwinia stewartii, sequential plantings of 'Jubilee' sweet corn were made at 2-wk intervals from April or May through August or September 2001 and 2002 at four locations from southern to northern Illinois: Simpson, Brownstown, Champaign, and Mendota. Densities of C. pulicaria and incidence of Stewart's wilt were monitored weekly. At Mendota, where C. pulicaria populations were decimated by cold temperatures during winter 2000-2001, densities reached 33.3 beetles per 15-cm yellow sticky trap per day by September 2002, after a mild 2001-2002 winter. Maximum incidence of Stewart's wilt in single plots at Simpson, Brownstown, Champaign, and Mendota was 22, 36, 39, and 2%, respectively, in 2001, and 33, 47, 99, and 87%, respectively, in 2002. In 24 plots where beetle densities were ≤2 per trap per day, Stewart's wilt incidence was <5% in 20 plots. We propose that two corn flea beetles per trap per day be used as a threshold for insecticide application to seedlings to control C. pulicaria and minimize subsequent incidence of Stewart's wilt in processing sweet corn. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays indicated that E. stewartii incidence in C. pulicaria peaked at 67, 62, and 54%, respectively, at Simpson, Brownstown, and Champaign, in 2001, and at 71, 76, and 60%, respectively, in 2002. Further studies might allow the use of areawide or field-specific estimates of E. stewartii incidence in corn flea beetles for adjusting management decisions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)673-682
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of economic entomology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology
  • Insect Science


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