Gabonia, Jatropha, Zambia Minimize

May 2008. Is there anybody who is currently working on the pests of Jatropha? A request was received from Zambia for the identification of a Golden flea beetle. There is little information on this pest, and its scientific name was requestred, natural enemies and country of origin. Jatropha has been introduced into Zambia and the trees are being being totally defoliated by this beetle, which appears to have no alternative host. The beetles are varocious feeders, so they have the potential to become a major pest. Do they feed on anything else?

A response from the Australian Museum. It looks more like a member of the subfamily Eumolpinae, possibly Gabonia; this is known to be associated with leaf wilt, and several species are reddish-brown when dead (and probably bright red when alive). There is an interesting paper on its attraction to pyrrolizidine alkaloids and a taxonomic revision of the genus with keys - Spixiana 20(1997): 7-38.

But it's difficult to tell from the photo.

The eggs are usually laid in soil, and the larvae live there, burrowing in roots. The adult are often polyphagous, so they might be coming in from the surrounding area. The alticine genus Gabonia is recorded as a pest of Jatropha in Africa.

Some photos were sent of pests from India: