Flea beetle, Jatropha, Mali Minimize

February 2010. A message from the ECO-CARBONE - R&D Coordinator, who is working on developing IPM methodologies for community-based Jatropha projects. Some Jatropha nurseries were found attacked in Mali in June/July, at the beginning of the rainy season, by small red beetles. Are these the golden flea beetles, Orange flea beetles or the leaf beetle, Strabala rufa (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae). Identification and control was requested.

It is certainly a flea beetle. There is a key to African flea beetle genera, published in German c. 1963 (by Scherer) in Entomologische Arbeiten auf die Museum Georg Frey (maybe German prepositions are wrong!)  It works reasonably well.

Another member wrote: it’s probably an Aphthoma species, a flea beetle, similar to the golden one, but just a different colour. In Guinea, it was not as ravaging as the golden one, and was less common in the wetter areas. It was seen there first in a town called Siguiri, not far from Mali. Imidacloprid would be effective.

Later, June 2010

Uganda also reported a problem with a golden flea beetle, and asked for the scientific name, and how to control it. A response came from Mali. The member said that the beetle was present there, but only in low numbers. They really only attack plants in the nursery. However, there are reports that a golden beetle has almost destroyed plantations in Mozambique and Zambia. Lambda cyhalothrin has proved effective against the beetle. Its common name is the Yellow or Golden flea beetle: Aphonta sp., Halticinae, family Chrysomelidae.