Cereal leaf beetle, Oulema melanopus (L.), invaded northern Alabama and Georgia more than a decade ago and since has become an economic pest of winter wheat and other cereal crops in the southeastern United States. A series of trials was conducted beginning in 1995 to determine optimal rate and timing of applications of selected foliar insecticides for managing cereal leaf beetle in soft red winter wheat. These trials, cage studies with larvae, and a manual defoliation experiment were used to provide information on cereal leaf beetle yield loss relationships and to develop economic decision rules for cereal leaf beetle in soft red winter wheat. Malathion, methomyl, carbaryl, and spinosad effectively controlled larval infestations when treatments were applied after most eggs had hatched. Encapsulated endotoxin of Bacillus thuringiensis, methyl parathion, and disulfoton applied at the lowest labeled rates were not effective treatments. Organophosphate insecticides generally were not effective when applied before most eggs had hatched. The most effective treatments were the low rates of λ cyhalothrin when applied early while adults were still laying eggs and before or near 50% egg hatch. These early applications applied at or before spike emergence virtually eliminated cereal leaf beetle injury. The manual defoliation study demonstrated that defoliation before spike emergence has greater impact on grain yield and yield components than defoliation after spike emergence. Furthermore, flag leaf defoliation causes more damage than injury to lower leaves. Grain test weight and kernel weight were not affected by larval injury in most trials. Regression of larval numbers and yield losses calculated a yield loss of 12.65% or 459 kg/ha per larva per stem, which at current application costs suggested an economic threshold of 0.4 larvae per stem during the spike emergence to anthesis stages.
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Vol. 97 • No. 2