Cereal leaf beetle, Oulema melanopus (L.), has become a serious pest of small grains in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States. Existing thresholds for implementing control measures allowed too much leaf damage and consequent yield loss to occur before recommending treatment. Information on beetle biology and crop response to injury, both prerequisites for developing new management strategies, was lacking for this region. A 3-yr project was initiated to generate an area wide cereal leaf beetle biological and yield impact database for winter wheat, and to evaluate the injury and yield loss potential of different population densities. Over the study period, beetle populations were evaluated at 26 winter wheat field locations in Virginia and North Carolina. Eggs and larvae, classified to instar, were counted twice each week from February to June. Replicated insecticide versus noninsecticide treatments were conducted at each location where leaf defoliation and yield were documented. Results showed that the relationship between 50th percentile egg and fourth-instar population estimates were in strong agreement (y = 0.36x − 0.01; r2 = 0.79). Potentially detrimental larval infestations were forecast before appearance of foliage injury from egg populations present during the stem elongation to flag leaf emergence developmental stages. A significant positive linear relationship between total fourth instar per stem population estimates and percent flag leaf defoliation was detected (y = 20.29x 1.34; r2 = 0.60). A weaker but still significant relationship between the total fourth-instar population estimates and percent yield loss was found (y = 11.74x 6.51; r2 = 0.26), indicating that factors in addition to flag leaf injury, primarily by fourth instars, also contributed to reduced yields.
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Vol. 94 • No. 3