How to Manage Cereal Leaf Beetle in Wheat

FBN Network

Oct 16, 2023

The cereal leaf beetle (Oulema melanopus), both in its adult beetle form and as larvae, can cause significant feeding damage that directly impacts a wheat plant's ability to produce carbohydrates through photosynthesis.

Adult beetles, which feed heavily on wheat crop leaves, leave behind elongated, brownish streaks known as "windowpane feeding." This feeding behavior directly affects the plant's ability to photosynthesize, compromising the plant’s overall health and leading to reduced grain yield. 

Additionally, the larvae of cereal leaf beetles can cause even more harm by feeding on both the leaves and stems of wheat plants. This further weakens the plants, making them more susceptible to other pests and diseases. 

It is crucial to take proactive measures to control and manage these pests to ensure the health and productivity of a wheat crop.

Hania Berdys, Bugwood.org

This guide will outline: 

  • How to identify cereal leaf beetles

  • The regions typically affected by cereal leaf beetles

  • Timing of cereal leaf beetle infestations

  • Chemical products to control cereal leaf beetles

How to Identify Cereal Leaf Beetles

Adult beetles are approximately 4-5 mm long (about the size of a small grain of rice) with metallic blue-black wing covers that shimmer in the sunlight. One of the key features that sets them apart from other beetles is their distinct yellow-orange head and legs, which create a striking contrast against their dark body. This vibrant coloration makes them easily distinguishable, even from a distance.

Cereal leaf beetle larvae are slender and elongated, resembling tiny green worms. They have a yellowish-green body with a dark head capsule, giving them a unique appearance.

When scouting for cereal leaf beetles, keep an eye out for adult beetles actively feeding on the leaves, as they leave behind brown, distinct windowpane-like streaks. Also pay attention to the presence of larvae, which can be found feeding on both the leaves and stems of the wheat plants. 


[RELATED: Using a Fungicide to Protect Your Wheat Crop] 


Regions Affected by Cereal Leaf Beetles 

Cereal leaf beetle is commonly found in wheat-growing regions with a temperate climate, such as North America, Europe and Asia. 

Hania Berdys, Bugwood.org

Timing of Cereal Leaf Beetle Infestations

Cereal leaf beetle infestations can occur at any point during the growing season, but they are most prevalent in the early season. The adult beetles emerge from their overwintering sites in the spring and immediately start feeding on wheat plants. As the season progresses, the larvae hatch and begin feeding, causing the most damage to wheat crops. 


[RELATED: Managing Spring and Summer Weeds in Your Winter Wheat]


When attempting to control cereal leaf beetles, integrated pest management strategies are important in order to reduce the risk of future resistance. By implementing a holistic approach that combines chemical control with other strategies such as crop rotation, biological control, and cultural practices, farmers can achieve long-term success in managing cereal leaf beetle infestations. 

Remember, the goal is not only to protect a wheat crop but also to maintain a healthy and balanced ecosystem on the farm.

However, some situations call for more aggressive strategies, including chemical solutions. Common insecticides to combat cereal leaf beetles contain active ingredients such as pyrethroids, neonicotinoids, or organophosphates, all of which have proven to be effective against the pest. 

Mourad Louadfel, Bugwood.org

Cereal Leaf Beetle Crop Protection from FBN Direct®

Proactively scouting for and responding to pest presence in your fields will help reduce potential crop damage and improve yield. FBN Direct has a wide variety of effective insecticides to help address pest pressures and keep your operation on track.

With transparent pricing, straightforward online ordering, detailed product labels and fast direct-to-farm delivery, FBN Direct can help you get the products you need to protect your crops. 


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