Field and laboratory studies were conducted to identify potential resistance among crape myrtles, Lagerstroemia spp., to Japanese beetle, Popillia japonica Newman and to flea beetles, Altica spp. Damage ratings revealed variation among cultivars in susceptibility to beetle feeding. Cultivars with Lagerstroemia fauriei Koehne in their parentage exhibited the least amount of damage in choice and no-choice experiments, with few exceptions. The data indicate that both beetle species cause more feeding damage on certain cultivars of Lagerstroemia indica L., such as ‘Country Red’, ‘Twilight’, and ‘Carolina Beauty’ than interspecific cultivars with L. fauriei in their parentage, such as ‘Natchez’, ‘Tonto’, and ‘Muskogee’. When comparing the effect of parentage on all of the major pests of crape myrtle, L. faurei confers resistance to all pests except crape myrtle aphid. No correlation was found between leaf toughness, leaf color, and leaf nutrients in estimating flea beetle cultivar preference. With this information, growers can more effectively target scouting measures to the most susceptible cultivars, and breeders can select plants that will require the fewest chemical inputs.
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Vol. 97 • No. 3