Phenology and overwintering of the Colorado potato beetle Leptinotarsa decemlineata Say in 2008-2015 in Estonia.
Before its establishment in Estonia at the beginning of the twenty-first century, the Colorado potato beetle Leptinotarsa decemlineata Say was a notifiable quarantine pest for many years. In high-latitude environments it encounters strong evolutionary pressure to adapt to low temperatures due to high overwintering mortality and periodic influx of new individuals from more southern populations. Our study focused on gathering evidence for such a range shift leading to the formation of a permanent local population. The phenology and overwintering success of beetles was investigated from 2008 to 2015. Depending on weather conditions in the different years, the overwintered beetles emerged from the soil from the beginning of May to mid-June. Over 700 degree days accumulated in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014 exceeding the limit needed for development of two generations. However, food supply and temperature distribution in the growing period enabled development of the second complete generation only in 2010 and 2013. Survival of overwintering beetles in field conditions varied between 18% and 47% in the different years. Winter mortality was not associated with low air temperature in any year as snow cover provided the necessary protection and winter soil temperatures at the depth of 30 cm remained at around 0°C for the duration of the whole observation period, with only some records as low as -3.5°C. The survival of overwintering beetles is more likely defined by factors other than low temperature. As a result of periodic invasions of beetles with naturally lower cold resistance originating from southern regions, the structure of the overwintering population in Nordic temperate conditions is not homogeneous. Moreover, this may also be derived from cultural practices, as commercial producers regularly apply agrochemicals while organic growers avoid them.