Psylliodes chrysocephala (cabbage stem flea beetle)
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Distribution Table
- Hosts/Species Affected
- Growth Stages
- List of Symptoms/Signs
- Biology and Ecology
- Natural enemies
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Plant Trade
- Detection and Inspection
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Psylliodes chrysocephala Linnaeus
Preferred Common Name
- cabbage stem flea beetle
Other Scientific Names
- Altica chrysocephala Latreille
- Altica chrysocephala Olivier
- Altise noire dorée Geoffroy
- Chrysomela chrysocephala Linné
- Galeruca chrysocephala Fabricius
- Haltica chrysocephala Illiger
- Haltica elongata Redt.
- Macrocnema chrysocephala Stephens
- Psylliodes chrysocephalus
- Psylliodes cyanoptera Redt.
International Common Names
- English: flea beetle, cabbage stem; flea beetle, rape; winter flea beetle of rape
- Spanish: altica de invierno de la colza; altisa de la colza; pulguilla de la colza; pulguilla de la nabo; pulguilla del repollo
- French: altise à tête dorée; altise a tete doree; altise d'hiver du colza; altise du navet
Local Common Names
- Denmark: rapsjordloppe
- Germany: Erdfloh, Raps-; Rapserdfloh
- Italy: altica della colza
- Netherlands: aardvloo; Koolzaadaardvloo
- Norway: Rapsjordoppen
- Poland: Pohelka rzepakowa
- Sweden: rapsjordloppa
- PSYICH (Psylliodes chrysocephala)
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Metazoa
- Phylum: Arthropoda
- Subphylum: Uniramia
- Class: Insecta
- Order: Coleoptera
- Family: Chrysomelidae
- Genus: Psylliodes
- Species: Psylliodes chrysocephala
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
P. chrysocephala was initially described as Chrysomela chrysocephala. The typical colouring is blue/green or blue/black with reddish head and legs. However, around six varieties, differing in size and colour have been described (Bonnemaison and Jourdheuil, 1954). For example brown elytra = var. anglica and brown thorax and elytra = var. nuncea.
DescriptionTop of page
The eggs are pale orange and around 1 mm long and 0.4 mm wide. There are three larval instars. The larvae are off-white with three pairs of legs, a black head and a black dorsal plate on the apical segment. The first and second instars, but not the third are speckled with black tubercles (Ebbe-Nyman, 1952). The approximate sizes of each instar are as follows;
First instars are 1 mm long by 0.3 mm wide,
Second instars are 3-4 mm long by 0.5 mm wide,
Third instars are 5-8 mm long by 0.6 mm wide.
Pupae are off-white, approximately the same dimensions as the adults. The adults are around 3-5 mm long, black, usually with a blue-green metallic sheen but variations in size and coloration occur. The elytra are striated. The head is visible dorsally. The antennae are 10-segmented. They have enlarged metafemora hind legs incorporating a metafemoral springer apodeme, enabling them to jump powerfully. The sexes can be distinguished by the shape of the tarsi.
DistributionTop of page
The cabbage stem flea beetle is found in Europe, North Africa, Asia and Canada (Bonnemaison and Jourdheuil, 1954; Bonnemaison, 1965; Bromand, 1990). With the expansion of rape growing in the UK, it extended its range both northwards and westwards and is now found in most areas where rape is grown (Graham and Alford, 1981; John and Holliday, 1984; Lane and Cooper 1989; Winfield, 1992).
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|Syria||Present||Bonnemaison and Jourdheuil, 1954|
|Turkey||Present||Bonnemaison and Jourdheuil, 1954|
|Algeria||Present||Bonnemaison and Jourdheuil, 1954|
|Morocco||Present||Bonnemaison and Jourdheuil, 1954|
|Tunisia||Present||Bonnemaison and Jourdheuil, 1954|
|Canada||Restricted distribution||EPPO, 2014|
|Croatia||Present||Culjak et al., 2008|
|Czech Republic||Present||Sedivý and Vasák, 2002|
|Estonia||Present||Bonnemaison and Jourdheuil, 1954|
|Finland||Present||Bonnemaison and Jourdheuil, 1954; Bromand, 1990|
|France||Widespread||Bonnemaison and Jourdheuil, 1954; Bromand, 1990|
|Germany||Widespread||Bonnemaison and Jourdheuil, 1954; Bromand, 1990|
|Greece||Present||Bonnemaison and Jourdheuil, 1954|
|Italy||Present||Bonnemaison and Jourdheuil, 1954|
|Latvia||Present||Bonnemaison and Jourdheuil, 1954|
|Lithuania||Present||Bonnemaison and Jourdheuil, 1954|
|Netherlands||Present||Bonnemaison and Jourdheuil, 1954; Bromand, 1990|
|Norway||Present||Bonnemaison and Jourdheuil, 1954|
|Poland||Present||Mrówczyński et al., 2006|
|Portugal||Present||Bonnemaison and Jourdheuil, 1954|
|-Madeira||Present||Bonnemaison and Jourdheuil, 1954|
|Russian Federation||Present||Bonnemaison and Jourdheuil, 1954|
|-Siberia||Present||Bonnemaison and Jourdheuil, 1954|
|-Southern Russia||Present||Bonnemaison and Jourdheuil, 1954|
|Serbia||Present||Sekulić and Kereši, 2007|
|Slovakia||Present||Cagán et al., 2000|
|Spain||Present||Bonnemaison and Jourdheuil, 1954|
|-England and Wales||Present||Walters et al., 2001|
HabitatTop of page
Adults spend the late summer feeding on wild or cultivated crucifer plants. They aestivate in the early part of the summer in sheltered areas such as hedgerows and spinneys, under plant material, in crevices or within the stems of plants (Bonnemaison and Jourdheuil, 1954; Williams and Carden, 1961). When adults emerge from aestivation they move to newly growing winter brassica crops, where they feed on the stems and leaves. The female lays her eggs in cracks in the soil near the base of a crucifer plant and the emerging larvae mine the stems and petioles of the plant. Larvae pupate in the soil.
Hosts/Species AffectedTop of page
The host-plant range of P. chrysocephala has not been thoroughly studied, most studies on crucifer-feeding Chrysomelidae concentrating on the genera Phyllotreta and Phaedon. Adults and/or larvae of P. chrysocephala have been recorded from 18 different crop and weed species of the family Brassicaceae but from only three plant species outside this family, namely Thalictrum majus, (Ranunculaceae), Linum usitatissum (Linaceae) and Glycine max (Papilionaceae) (Newton, 1929; Bonnemaison and Jourdheuil, 1954).
However, in laboratory experiments, feeding was almost entirely restricted to the Brassicaceae (Bartlet and Williams, 1991), including Brassica napus, B. oleracea, B. rapa, B. nigra, Sinapis alba, Sinapis arvensis, Eruca vesicaria, Nasturtium officinale, Raphanus sativus, Isatis tinctoria, Alliaria petiolata and Matthiola incana. The only plants outside the Brassicaceae on which feeding was observed were Reseda alba (Resedaceae) and Tropaeolum majus (Tropaeolaceae). These plants contain glucosinolates, secondary chemicals that characterise the Brassicaceae and, in subsequent experiments, Bartlet et al. (1994) showed that glucosinolates are important feeding cues for this species.
Growth StagesTop of page Seedling stage, Vegetative growing stage
SymptomsTop of page
The adults chew holes in the leaves. The larvae usually mine the lower petioles, moving from ageing to healthy tissue, but will move to the stem and destroy the growing point if larval numbers are large or if the rosette is poorly developed (Ebbe-Nyman, 1952; Bonnemaison and Jourdheuil, 1954; Williams and Carden, 1961). Severe larval attack can distort the plant and cause the epidermis to peel, leading to the death of the plant (Williams and Carden, 1961). As well as causing direct damage, attack by P. chrysocephala is associated with fungal (Leptosphaeria maculans and Phoma lingam) and bacterial (Erwinia) infection, (Bonnemaison and Jourdheuil, 1954; Williams and Carden, 1961; Newman, 1984; Nilsson, 1990). The beetle may transmit turnip crinkle virus (Bonnemaison, 1965). Plants infested with the cabbage stem flea beetle are also more susceptible to frost damage (Winfield, 1992).
List of Symptoms/SignsTop of page
|Growing point / distortion|
|Growing point / external feeding|
|Growing point / internal feeding; boring|
|Leaves / abnormal forms|
|Leaves / external feeding|
|Leaves / frass visible|
|Leaves / necrotic areas|
|Stems / distortion|
|Stems / internal feeding|
|Whole plant / distortion; rosetting|
|Whole plant / external feeding|
|Whole plant / frass visible|
|Whole plant / internal feeding|
|Whole plant / plant dead; dieback|
Biology and EcologyTop of page
The beetle has one generation a year. Adults emerge from pupation in the spring (Williams and Carden, 1961). About two weeks after emergence they move to their summer feeding sites to feed on the leaves, stems and pods of the rape plant (Ebbe-Nyman, 1952). Alford (1979) found large numbers on rape stubble in July. After the rape is harvested the beetles may move to feed on wild crucifers (Bonnemaison and Jourdheuil, 1954; Saringer, 1984). From mid-July onwards the beetles enter aestivation in sheltered sites (Bonnemaison and Jourdheuil, 1954; Williams and Carden, 1961). Aestivation lasts 30-60 days and is thought to be independent of environmental conditions (Bonnemaison and Jourdheuil, 1954; Saringer, 1984).
Beetles emerge from aestivation in late summer and feed on wild plants before flying up to 3 miles to newly emerging winter rape crops (Bonnemaison, 1965). Temperatures greater than 16°C are required for flight (Ebbe-Nyman, 1952). Once in the crop the flight muscles atrophy (Ebbe-Nyman, 1952; Bonnemaison, 1965). Mating first occurs soon after emergence and continues throughout the winter (Bonnemaison and Jourdheuil, 1954). Adult numbers decline throughout the winter (Williams and Carden, 1961). Bonnemaison and Jourdheuil (1954) found the mean longevity of females was 6.5 months and that of males was 5.5 months.
The ovaries of the females are immature on emergence from aestivation (Bonnemaison and Jourdheuil, 1954; Williams and Carden, 1961). Oviposition begins after 12-14 days of adult feeding and continues throughout the winter (Ebbe-Nyman, 1952; Alford, 1979). The female usually lays her pale orange eggs in cracks in the soil near the base of a rape plant (Saringer, 1984) although Bonnemaison and Jourdheuil (1954) also found eggs deposited on the plant itself. Optimum conditions for egg laying are high humidity and temperatures of between 4-16°C (Bonnemaison and Jourdheuil, 1954; Saringer, 1984). Temperatures of below 2°C inhibit oviposition, and temperatures lower than 3°C inhibit egg development and larval activity, so egg laying and larval invasion often cease in mid-winter and resume in the spring (Bonnemaison and Jourdheuil, 1954). However, 90-100% of egg laying usually occurs in the autumn (Bonnemaison and Jourdheuil, 1954). Egg laying has been observed as late as June, although it has usually finished by April (Bonnemaison and Jourdheuil, 1954). Maximum fecundity is 800-1000 eggs (Bonnemaison, 1965; Saringer, 1984). Cumulative temperature can be used to predict egg hatch and larval invasion; Alford (1979) calculated that egg hatch took 240 accumulated day-degrees above 3.2°C.
There are three larval instars. The neonate larvae will move up to 50 cm to find a host plant (Bonnemaison and Jourdheuil, 1954). They usually penetrate the upper surface of a petiole of one of the lower leaves, near its point of insertion in the stem (Bonnemaison and Jourdheuil, 1954; Queinnec, 1967). Larvae are found in plants from early autumn onwards (Bonnemaison and Jourdheuil, 1954; Alford, 1979). Alford (1979) first found second instar larvae in December and third instar larvae in March. The larvae usually mine the lower petioles, moving from ageing to healthy tissue (Ebbe-Nyman, 1952; Bonnemaison and Jourdheuil, 1954; Williams and Carden, 1961). At a temperature of 4°C larval development takes 220 days (Bonnemaison and Jourdheuil, 1954). From February onwards, larval numbers in plants decline as the larvae leave the plants to pupate (Williams and Carden, 1961). Larvae burrow into the soil and excavate a cell 7-9 cm deep (Bonnemaison and Jourdheuil, 1954).
Natural enemiesTop of page
|Natural enemy||Type||Life stages||Specificity||References||Biological control in||Biological control on|
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page
Different life cycle stages of P. chrysocephala may be parasitized by fungi, bacteria, gregarines, nematodes, acarines and Hymenoptera (Bonnemaison and Jourdheuil, 1954; Butt et al., 1992). The following information on parasitism of P .chrysocephala comes from Ulber and Williams (2001).
P. chrysocephala is attacked by parasitoids in both its larval and adult stages, as larvae by four species of ichneumonids, two species of braconids and one species of pteromalid and as adults by a species of braconid.
Tersilochus tripartitus is the most widely distributed species attacking the larvae of P. chrysocephala; it has been found in Ireland, Denmark, Sweden, Austria, France, the Czech Republic and Germany. The level of parasitism ranged between 30-60% in France and between 3-27% in Germany. In the Czech Republic, T. tripartitus was reported as abundant when populations of P. chrysocephala exceeded the economic damage threshold in 1955 and 1956, but it occurred only rarely in subsequent years when host densities were low. Tersilochus microgaster is another solitary, univoltine endoparasitoid that attacks P. chrysocephala larvae in the spring.
The solitary endoparasitoid Cremastus carinifer has been reported to parasitise the larvae of P. chrysocephala in France and Northern Germany. However, the identification by Bonnemaison and Jourdheuil (1954) was later revised to Aneuclis melanarius.
A. melanarius is different from the ichneumonids because it is a polyvoltine larval endoparasitoid of various Coleopteran species. It attacks the larvae of P. chrysocephala and Ceutorhynchus pleurostigma in the autumn. A. melanarius has been recorded from almost all European countries but recorded parasitism of P. chrysocephala larvae by this species was generally low (0.2-1.5%).
Diospilus morosus is a solitary polyvoltine endoparasitoid, reported to parasitise the larvae of P. chrysocephala in France and Germany. The endoparasitoid Diospilus capito has been reported to parasitise the larvae of P. chrysocephala in Germany and France. However, it has a wide host range and appears to have only minor impact on P. chrysocephala.
The solitary polyvoltine ectoparasitoid Trichomalus lucidus has been reared from P. chrysocephala larvae in the UK and in Northern Germany but its occurrence on this species is rare. Eubadizon coxalis, was reported by Balachowsky (1963) to attack P. chrysocephala but there is no further information in the literature on this species.
Microctonus melanopus has been reared from P. chrysocephala adults in France and in the UK. There is no quantitative information in the literature on levels of parasitism of P. chrysocephala by this solitary polyvoltine endoparasitoid.
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page
Flights of up to 3 miles have been reported for flea beetles seeking newly emerging rape crops in the autumn (Bonnemaison, 1965). This is probably the chief means of dispersal.
Plant TradeTop of page
|Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transport||Pest stages||Borne internally||Borne externally||Visibility of pest or symptoms|
|Growing medium accompanying plants||eggs; pupae||Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye|
|Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches||larvae||Yes||Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye|
|Plant parts not known to carry the pest in trade/transport|
|Fruits (inc. pods)|
|True seeds (inc. grain)|
ImpactTop of page
The cabbage stem flea beetle is a pest of most brassica seed crops (Winfield, 1992). It is a serious pest of winter rape in Sweden, France, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the UK. (Bromand, 1990). In the UK, it is the most important establishment pest of rape, leading to yield losses of up to 20% (Lane and Cooper, 1989). Larval infestation causes an overall loss in vigour leading to lower yields even at very low larval densities (Nilsson, 1990).
Detection and InspectionTop of page
No commercial monitoring traps are currently available for this insect. Although heavy adult infestations in the autumn can destroy crops at the seedling stage farmers are not usually advised to control adult populations (Bonnemaison and Jourdheuil, 1954; Alford et al., 1991). Because of the high winter mortality of the adults and the increased size of the rape plants, adult feeding is not important in the spring (Bonnemaison and Jourdheuil, 1954). To determine larval infestation levels in oilseed rape, a sample of rape leaf stems from across the field should be dissected and larval numbers noted. A less time consuming threshold assessment method, based on petiole scarring, has been suggested (Cooper and Lane, 1991).
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page
Adult feeding damage may be mistaken for slug damage.
Prevention and ControlTop of page
Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.
Because an autumn application of pyrethroid is relatively inexpensive, fields are often sprayed prophylactically against the cabbage stem flea beetle/aphids, even though treatment is rarely justified (Lane and Cooper, 1989; Alford et al., 1991). In 1998, 37,686 ha were treated against this beetle in the UK (Garthwaite and Thomas, 1998). Five synthetic pyrethroids are currently recommended for use against the cabbage stem flea beetle in the UK (Whitehead, 2000).
ReferencesTop of page
Alford, D. V., 1979. Observations on the cabbage stem flea beetle, Psylliodes chrysocephala, on winter oil-seed rape in Cambridgeshire. Annals of Applied Biology, 93(2), 117-123. doi: 10.1111/j.1744-7348.1979.tb06521.x
Balachowsky AS, 1963. Entomologie appliquée à l'agriculture, Paris, France: Masson et Cie.
Bartlet, E., Parsons, D., Williams, I. H., Clark, S. J., 1994. The influence of glucosinolates and sugars on feeding by the cabbage stem flea beetle, Psylliodes chrysocephala. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata, 73(1), 77-83. doi: 10.1007/BF02382516
Bartlet, E., Williams, I. H., 1991. Factors restricting the feeding of the cabbage stem flea beetle (Psylliodes chrysocephala). Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata, 60(3), 233-238. doi: 10.1007/BF00354216
Bonnemaison L, 1965. Insect pests of crucifers and their control. Annual Review of Entomology, 10, 233-356.
Bonnemaison L, Jourdheuil P, 1954. [English title not available]. (L'altise d'hiver du colza (Psylliodes chrysocephala L.)). Annales Epiphyties, 5, 345-1524.
Bromand B, 1990. Diversities in oilseed rape growing in the Western Palearctic region. Malmo, Sweden: OILB/WPRS working group, Integrated control in oilseed rape.
Butt, T. M., Barrisever, M., Drummond, J., Schuler, T. H., Tillemans, F. T., Wilding, N., 1992. Pathogenicity of the entomogenous, hyphomycete fungus, Metarhizium anisopliae against the chrysomelid beetles Psylliodes chrysocephala and Phaedon cochleariae. Biocontrol Science and Technology, 2(4), 327-334. doi: 10.1080/09583159209355248
Cagán, L., Vráblová, M., Tóth, P., 2000. Flea beetles (Chrysomelidae: Alticinae) species occurring on Amaranthus spp. in Slovakia. Journal of Central European Agriculture, 1(1), 14-25. http://www.agr.hr/jcea/issues/jcea1-1/frame.html
Csavajda, E., 2001. Investigations of insects emphasizing pests of oil radish. (Az olajretekhez kapcsolódó rovarfajok, különös tekintettel a kártevodouble acute˜kre). Acta Agronomica Óváriensis, 43(2), 101-111.
Ebbe-Nyman E, 1952. [English title not available]. (Rapsjordoppon Psylliodes chrysocephala L-bidragtill kSnnedem um des biologi och hekSmpning). Statens VSxtskydelanstalt Meddelande, 63, 1-103.
EPPO, 2014. PQR database. Paris, France: European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization. http://www.eppo.int/DATABASES/pqr/pqr.htm
Garthwaite DG, Thomas MR, 1998. Pesticide usage survey report 159. Arable farm crops. London, UK: MAFF.
Graham, C. W., Alford, D. V., 1981. The distribution and importance of cabbage stem flea beetle (Psylliodes chrysocephala (L.)) on winter oilseed rape in England. Plant Pathology, 30(3), 141-145. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3059.1981.tb01245.x
John ME, Holliday JM, 1984. Distribution and chemical control of Psylliodes chrysocephala and Ceutorhynchus picitarsis in winter oilseed rape. Aspects of Applied Biology, 6, 281-292.
Lane, A., Cooper, D. A., 1989. Importance and control of insect pests of oilseed rape. In: Aspects of Applied Biology [Production and protection of oilseed rape and other Brassica crops, a meeting held in Cambridge, UK, 18-19 December 1989], (No. 23) [ed. by Dale, M. F. B, Dewar, A. M., Froud-Williams, R. J., Hocking, T. J., Jones, D. G., Rea, B. L.]. 269-276.
Newman, P. L., 1984. The effects of insect larval damage upon the incidence of canker in winter oilseed rape. In: 1984 British Crop Protection Conference. Pests and diseases. Proceedings of a conference held at Brighton Metropole, England, November 19-22, 1984. Volume 2 [1984 British Crop Protection Conference. Pests and diseases. Proceedings of a conference held at Brighton Metropole, England, November 19-22, 1984. Volume 2], Croydon, United Kingdom: British Crop Protection Council. 815-822.
Newton HCF, 1929. Observations on the biology of some flea beetles of economic importance. Journal of the South Eastern Agricultural College, 26, 145-162.
Nilsson C, 1990. Yield losses in winter rape by cabbage stem flea beetle larvae (Psylliodes chrysocephala). OILB working group - integrated control in oilseed rape. WPRS Bull, xiii/4, 53-55.
Queinnec Y, 1967. [English title not available]. (Etude des facteurs psycho-physiologiques permettant la decouverte de la plant-hote par les larves neonates de l'altise d'hiver du colza, Psylliodes chrysocephala). Annales Epiphyties, 18, 28-74.
Sekulic, R., Kereši, T., 2007. Use of yellow traps in rapeseed protection against pests. (Korišcenje žutih lovnih posuda u zaštiti uljane repice od štetocina). Biljni Lekar (Plant Doctor), 35(1), 18-24.
Ulber B, Williams IH, 2001. Parasitoids of flea beetles. In: Bio-control of insect pests of oilseed rape, [ed. by Alford DV]. Oxford, UK: Blackwells.
Walters, K. F. A., Lane, A., Cooper, D. A., Morgan, D., 2001. A commercially acceptable assessment technique for improved control of cabbage stem flea beetle feeding on winter oilseed rape. Crop Protection, 20(10), 907-912. doi: 10.1016/S0261-2194(01)00040-0
Williams JJW, Carden PW, 1961. Cabbage stem flea beetle in East Anglia. Plant Pathology, 10, 85-95.
Distribution MapsTop of page
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