Meligethes aeneus (rape beetle)
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Distribution Table
- Risk of Introduction
- Hosts/Species Affected
- Host Plants and Other Plants Affected
- Growth Stages
- List of Symptoms/Signs
- Biology and Ecology
- Natural enemies
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Plant Trade
- Impact Summary
- 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
- Meligethes aeneus Fabricius, 1775
Preferred Common Name
- rape beetle
Other Scientific Names
- Dermestes psyllius Herbst, 1784
- Meligethes aeneus var. californicus Reitter, 1871
- Meligethes aeneus var. coeruleus Reitter, 1871
- Meligethes aeneus var. rotundangulus Ganglbauer, 1899
- Meligethes aeneus var. rubripennis Reitter, 1871
- Meligethes aeneus var. semiaeneus Ganglbauer, 1899
- Meligethes asperrimus Guillebeau, 1897
- Meligethes australis Küster, 1848
- Meligethes bonvouloiri C. Brisout de Barneville, 1872
- Meligethes boops Easton, 1957
- Meligethes brassicae Reitter, 1875
- Meligethes cleominis Easton, 1959
- Meligethes dauricus Motschulsky, 1849
- Meligethes minor Rey, 1889
- Meligethes moerens LeConte, 1857
- Meligethes mutatus Harold, 1868
- Meligethes nigricornis Stephens, 1830
- Meligethes peristericus Roubal, 1943
- Meligethes pubens Rey, 1889
- Meligethes ruficornis LeConte, 1859
- Meligethes rufimanus LeConte, 1857
- Meligethes urticae Stephens, 1830
- Meligethes viridipennis Motschulsky, 1860
- Nitidula aenea Fabricius, 1775
- Nitidula aeneus Fabricius
- Nitidula alpestris Heer, 1841
- Nitidula coerulea Marsham, 1802
- Nitidula latipes Marsham, 1802
- Nitidula nigrina Marsham, 1802
- Nitidula pedicularia var. B Paykull, 1798
- Nitidula subtilis Waltl, 1838
- Scarabaeus florilegulus Fourcroy, 1785
International Common Names
- English: beetle, rape; blossom beetle; pollen beetle; rape blossom beetle
- Spanish: escarabajo o meliguete de la colza; escarabajuelo de los nabos
- French: méligèthes des crucifères; méligèthes du colza
Local Common Names
- Denmark: glimmerboesse; Glimmerbøsse
- Estonia: naeri-hiilamardikas
- Finland: rapsikuoriainen; rapsikuoriainen
- Germany: Glanzkaefer, Raps-; Glimmerbossen; Rapsglanzkäfer
- Italy: meligete della colza
- Netherlands: Koolzaadglanskever
- Norway: rapsglansbille
- Sweden: rapsbaggar; rapsbagge
- MELIAE (Meligethes aeneus)
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Metazoa
- Phylum: Arthropoda
- Subphylum: Uniramia
- Class: Insecta
- Order: Coleoptera
- Family: Nitidulidae
- Genus: Meligethes
- Species: Meligethes aeneus
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page This species has been known consistently as Meligethes aeneus in Europe since the nineteenth century and there has been little confusion over its identity this century. However, the separation of specimens from Asia and western North America is a matter of debate. Easton (1955) regarded the western North American specimens as belonging to a distinct species, M. rufimanus LeConte, with the Asian specimens as a subspecies, M. rufimanus dauricus Motschulsky. As Motschulsky's name is older, it has priority and Easton (1959) later corrected the western North American species to M. dauricus, with M. rufimanus as a synonym. Kirejtshuk (1992) treated dauricus as a subspecies of aeneus, with rufimanus in synonymy and Audisio (1993) listed all the names in synonymy with M. aeneus. Key works by which the species can be identified include Easton (1955), Kirk-Spriggs (1996), Spornraft (1967), Kirejtshuk (1992) and Audisio (1993). A simplified key to adults and larvae is included in Alford et al. (2003).
DescriptionTop of page A very detailed description with figures of the immature stages of M. aeneus was given by Osborne (1965), from which the following is a brief summary.
Length 0.81 mm, breadth 0.29 mm. Cylindrical, rounded at both ends, greyish-white but becoming milky as development occurs. Chorion smooth and shiny.
The final instar larva is elongate, up to 4.4 mm long, somewhat depressed and with the body milky white, the head black and prognathous (pointing forwards). The pronotal shield is dark brown to black and irregularly sclerotized. The other segments have a pair of small, rounded, brownish-black dorsolateral plates and a pair of smaller dorsomedian plates, the latter being fused together and increasing in size from abdominal segment IV. Ninth abdominal segment with weak, broadly rounded urogomphi.
Average length 2.35 mm. Creamy-white, oval in outline, depressed in abdominal region. Head strongly deflexed ventrally, concealed from above by pronotum, setae around margins of pronotum and abdomen.
Length 1.9-2.7 mm, oval in shape, broadly rounded anteriorly and posteriorly, with head relatively broad. Head and body black with distinct metallic greenish, bluish or purplish sheen, legs slightly paler, especially anterior tibiae pitchy to dark yellowish. Antennae about as long as head width, with the apical three segments forming a distinct, oval, compact club. Anterior tibiae with outer edge finely toothed. Middle femora simple, without tooth on lower edge at apical third.
For critical identification of Meligethes species, it is necessary to examine the male genitalia and the female ovipositor. Recent key works (Audisio, 1993; Kirk-Spriggs, 1996) figure both male and female genitalia, while Spornraft (1967) figured the male genitalia.
DistributionTop of page M. aeneus is a common and widespread species throughout most of the Holarctic Region. Audisio (1993) gave its distribution as the whole of Europe, North Africa, eastwards through Central Asia to the Russian Far East and Mongolia, and in the western states of North America as far south as the north of Mexico. The Asian and North American populations have been regarded as separate subspecies or as valid species by some previous authors (see Notes on Taxonomy).
Countries indicated within the range of M. aeneus by Audisio (1993) but for which published records have not been located so far include several of the Caucasus and Central Asian countries (former states of the Soviet Union), some Middle Eastern countries, parts of North Africa (Egypt, Libya), and some of the smaller European and Mediterranean countries.
The distribution map includes records based on specimens of M. aeneus from the collection in the Natural History Museum (London, UK): dates of collection are noted in the list of countries (NHM, various dates).
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.Last updated: 10 Jan 2020
Risk of IntroductionTop of page As larvae are short-lived, and pupate in the soil, phytosanitary risks for larvae are negligible. However, adults are long-lived and the only overwintering stage. They are readily attracted to a wide range of flowers and may be exported accidentally. Hoebeke and Wheeler (1996) noted that from 1967-77, specimens of M. aeneus had been intercepted at major ports in the USA on at least 11 occasions from produce from the UK (England), Germany, Denmark, Norway, France, the Netherlands and Poland.
Hosts/Species AffectedTop of page The major hosts for M. aeneus in Europe are various Brassica and Sinapis species. It is as a pest of rape that the species is best known. Host plant quality affects egg size (Ekbom and Popov, 2004). However, at times of the year when its breeding hosts are not in flower, it will feed from the flowers of an enormous range of plant species, especially in early spring and late summer, and has been reported as a pest of strawberry (Cross and Easterbrook, 1998).
In North America, wild hosts include Cleome and Isomeris species.
Host Plants and Other Plants AffectedTop of page
|Achillea millefolium (yarrow)||Asteraceae||Other|
|Barbarea vulgaris (common wintercress (UK))||Other|
|Brassica juncea var. juncea (Indian mustard)||Brassicaceae||Main|
|Brassica napus var. napobrassica (swede)||Brassicaceae||Main|
|Brassica napus var. napus (rape)||Brassicaceae||Main|
|Brassica nigra (black mustard)||Brassicaceae||Other|
|Brassica oleracea (cabbages, cauliflowers)||Brassicaceae||Other|
|Brassica oleracea var. botrytis (cauliflower)||Brassicaceae||Other|
|Brassica rapa subsp. oleifera (turnip rape)||Brassicaceae||Main|
|Brassica rapa subsp. rapa (turnip)||Brassicaceae||Main|
|Crambe abyssinica||Brassicaceae||Wild host|
|Eruca vesicaria (purple-vein rocket)||Brassicaceae||Other|
|Secale cereale (rye)||Poaceae||Other|
|Sinapis alba (white mustard)||Brassicaceae||Other|
|Sinapis arvensis (wild mustard)||Brassicaceae||Main|
|Solanum lycopersicum (tomato)||Solanaceae||Other|
Growth StagesTop of page Flowering stage
SymptomsTop of page The most obvious sign of attack is the presence of shiny black beetles crawling around the flowers of the host plant. Holes in the buds indicate where adults have fed on or laid their eggs in the buds. Severe damage to buds can cause the buds to drop leaving podless stalks (Williams and Free, 1978). Feeding in the flowers is restricted to the pollen-bearing stamens and few visible symptoms are apparent.
List of Symptoms/SignsTop of page
|Inflorescence / external feeding|
Biology and EcologyTop of page The biology and ecology of M. aeneus is reviewed by Alford et al. (2003). The species is univoltine. Adults emerge in spring after overwintering in woodland and other sheltered uncultivated sites. They fly actively when temperatures exceed 12-15°C, often feeding on the pollen of any available flowers before locating their breeding hosts (mainly Brassica and Sinapis species in Europe) (Free and Williams, 1978; Williams and Free, 1978). Eggs are laid in buds at least 3 mm long. Oviposition rates and egg load dynamics have been studied by Ekbom and Ferdinand (2003). The larvae feed on pollen in flowers (Cook et al., 2002, 2004) taking 9-13 days to complete two larval instars (Osborne, 1965). The full-grown larva then drops to the ground, burying itself in the soil and forming an earthen cell in which to pupate. The new adults emerge later, and feed on pollen from any available flowers before once more seeking overwintering sites. The spatial distribution of M. aeneus on crops is usually complex and irregular (Free and Williams, 1979; Ferguson et al., 2003).
Natural enemiesTop of page
|Natural enemy||Type||Life stages||Specificity||References||Biological control in||Biological control on|
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page Lists of natural enemies were given by Osborne (1960), Audisio (1993) and Kirk-Spriggs (1996).The role of natural enemies for control of M. aeneus in oilseed rape is reviewed in Alford (2003) with a chapter on parasitoids by Nilsson (2003), on predators by Büchs and Alford (2003), and on pathogens by Hokkanen et al. (2003).
The Hymenopteran endoparasitoids attacking M. aeneus belong to the families Ichneumonidae, Braconidae, Proctotrupidae and Encyrtidae; a key to those associated with oilseed rape pests including M. aeneus has been published by Vidal (2003). Parasitism rates are generally less than 30%. Parasitism rates and non-cropped area have been found to be positively correlated in different agricultural landscapes (Thies et al., 2003).
Osborne (1960) described the eggs, larvae and biology of some parasitoids found in the UK. He also noted unidentified Protozoa and Nematoda inside the body of adult M. aeneus, and Acari attached externally.
Predation of adult and pupal M. aeneus in Europe by ground beetles (Carabidae, Pterostichini), staphylinid beetles and spiders (Aranei) can be a significant mortality factor (Basedow, 1973; Büchs and Alford, 2003).
Protozoan parasites/pathogens in adult M. aeneus have been described by Lipa and Hokkanen (1991) and Issi et al. (1993).
All the natural enemies listed are indigenous and there do not appear to be any examples of exotic species being deliberately introduced for biological control. However, there is considerable current interest in conservation biological control by integrating naturally-occurring key natural enemies of M. aeneus into integrated pest management strategies for oilseed rape. The natural incidence of pathogens in rape fields is usually low; augmentation of pathogens, particularly of the entomopathogenic fungus Metarhizium anisopliae and the entomopathogenic nematode Steinernema feltiae is being investigated (Williams, 2004) and the former has been successfully disseminated by the honey bee to the flowering canopy of oilseed rape to infect adult M. aeneus (Butt et al., 1998).
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|
|Flowers/Inflorescences/Cones/Calyx||adults; eggs; larvae||Yes||Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye|
Impact SummaryTop of page
|Fisheries / aquaculture||None|
ImpactTop of page M. aeneus is widespread and abundant throughout Europe where it is a major pest of Brassica crops, particularly oilseed rape (Brassica napus) and turnip rape (Brassica rapa) (Alford et al., 2003). Although it feeds from the flowers of many different plant species, it breeds only on cruciferous species and spreads rapidly to new rape-growing areas. The feeding activities of large numbers of new generation M. aeneus emerging in mid-summer can be of nuisance value to gardeners and ornamental plant growers. They can reach pest status on some flowering crops such as strawberries (Cross and Easterbrook, 1998) and runner beans at this time.
Adult feeding damage to buds can cause them to abort, thus reducing yields of seeds (Williams and Free, 1978; Nilsson, 1987, 1988). However, because of plant compensation, yields are affected only above 60% pod loss (Williams and Free, 1979). Larvae also feed on pollen (Cook et al., 2004) and nectar. Winter rape is affected less than spring rape because it usually starts to flower before the beetles are active, but the latter is much more heavily attacked. In Denmark, Hansen (2004) has reported that 80% yield reduction can occur. He has calculated that the economic damage threshold of 5% of yield can be exceeded by 0.1-3 M. aeneus per plant, depending on rainfall.
Flower visiting insects, including M. aeneus, are probably important pollinating agents (Williams, 1985).
Detection and InspectionTop of page Methods of sampling, trapping and rearing M. aeneus are reviewed by Williams et al. (2003). The presence of M. aeneus on a crop can most readily be determined by inspecting the flowers or by tapping inflorescences over a tray or sheet. Yellow water traps (some baited with plant volatiles) and sweep-netting are also often used for monitoring.
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page In the western Palaearctic, Meligethes viridescens is a very similar, metallic species, which can be easily separated from M. aeneus by having a small projecting tooth on the lower edge of the middle femur. It also has a brighter colour, paler legs on average and finer dorsal punctures. Other similar species occur in the eastern Palaearctic (Kirejtshuk, 1992) and in North America (Easton, 1955).
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.Cultural Control
Hokkanen et al. (1986) described the use of trap crops to help protect cauliflowers and spring rape in southern Finland. Some trials showed that almost complete protection was possible, but this depended on being able to produce a trap crop in flower before the main crop, which could be difficult to time accurately. For cauliflower protection, the most attractive trap crops were Chinese cabbage, broccoli and rape. The trap crops were sprayed with insecticide, usually deltamethrin, when the pollen beetle numbers reached such a level that emigration onto the main crop was likely. During peak activity, spraying about twice a week was necessary. Crop losses were reduced from the 20-40% observed without a trap to 3-15% with the traps. For spring sown rape, earlier flowering varieties or winter rape was used as a trap in experimental plots. If the trap flowered at the right time before the main crop, savings of 50-95% in pesticide use were possible. There is currently renewed interest in the potential for exploiting pest preferences for host plant and growth stage to develop trap crop strategies which concentrate the pest onto early flowering rape and away from the damage-susceptible growth stage of oilseed rape (e.g. Nerad and Vasak, 2000; Frearson et al., 2005; Cook et al., 2006).
Research aimed at breeding cultivars of oilseed rape resistant to M. aeneus, by investigating pest responses to the glucosinolate content of different cultivars or other host plants have so far not shown a clear relationship between pest incidence and glucosinolate profile (e.g. Milford et al., 1989; Hopkins et al., 1998).
The OEPP (2005) describe the conduct of trials for the efficacy evaluation of insecticides against M. aeneus on rape. Pyrethroid insecticides have been preferred for control of M. aeneus in recent years to reduce the effect on nontarget organisms. However, the recent and widespread development of resistance to pyrethroids in M. aeneus in mainland Europe (e.g. Hansen, 2003) has made more urgent the need for control strategies that minimise insecticide use on oilseed rape and optimise biological control (Williams, 2004; Frearson et al., 2005; Cook et al., 2006). Phenological studies show that pyrethroid applications during flowering threaten parasitoid populations that are important to biological control (Ferguson et al., 2003).
A PC-based decision support system (ProPlant) has been developed in Germany for the crop covering six pests, including M. aeneus (Johnen and Meier, 2000). It takes into account pest numbers on the crop as well as weather-based forecasts of flight conditions, egg-laying periods and larval development to determine the need and timing of insecticide applications.
Integrated Pest Management
There is considerable current interest in conservation biological control by integrating key natural enemies of M. aeneus into integrated pest management strategies for oilseed rape (Williams, 2004). Ploughing is known to kill overwintering parasitoids of M. aeneus (Nilsson, 1985); minimal tillage techniques that improve their survival are being reinvestigated (Wahmhoff et al., 1999; Williams, 2004). Phenological models for parasitoids are being developed for integration into the PC-based decision support system (ProPlant) developed in Germany for pests of oilseed rape including M. aeneus (Johnen and Meier, 2000). The natural incidence of pathogens in rape fields is usually low; augmentation of pathogens, particularly of the entomopathogenic fungus Metarhizium anisopliae and the entomopathogenic nematode Steinernema feltiae is being investigated (Williams, 2004), and the former has been successfully disseminated by the honey bee to the flowering canopy of oilseed rape to infect adult M. aeneus (Butt et al., 1998). There are also reports that the biopesticide Bacillus thuringiensis has been used with some success against M. aeneus (Prishchepa and Mikulskaya, 1998; Hokkanen et al., 2003).
ReferencesTop of page
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