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Posted 23 June 2008. PMN Crop News.

SDSU Publications: Using Leafy Spurge Beetles

South Dakota State University.

Brookings, South Dakota (June 5, 2008)--New publications from South Dakota State University offer tips on using flea beetles to help control leafy spurge.


SDSU Extension Extra 8161, “Managing Leafy Spurge Flea Beetle Releases in South Dakota," is available online in PDF format at SDSU Extension Extra 8162, “Leafy Spurge Flea Beetle Collection Recommendations,” is online at

Or ask about the publications at your county Extension office.

SDSU Extension Integrated Pest Management Coordinator Darrell Deneke wrote or co-authored the publications. Deneke said leafy spurge flea beetle (Aphthona species) has been an effective means of controlling leafy spurge in South Dakota since the mid-1980s. Of the six Aphthona flea beetle species approved and released for controlling leafy spurge, only the A. nigriscutis and A. lacertosa have had significant effect. This group of flea beetles is host-specific to the leafy spurge plant, which makes them an ideal biological control choice. The flea beetles typically take three to five years to establish and impact leafy spurge infestations. Once established, the adult flea beetles can be collected with sweep nets and moved to other leafy spurge infestations.

Collect bugs only between mid-June and early/mid-July. This is when the adult flea beetles will be out on spurge plants. After mid-July, the flea beetles begin to lay eggs and should not be moved. Eggs need to be laid at the old release site or the new release site.

Consult the publications for more details, or talk to your Extension agronomy educator.

Deneke’s co-author on SDSU Extension Extra 8161 is SDSU Extension Agronomy Educator Irene Graves.

Darrell Deneke