The potential of the solitary parasitoid Microctonus brassicae for the biological control of the adult cabbage stem flea beetle, Psylliodes chrysocephala.
The cabbage stem flea beetle (CSFB), Psylliodes chrysocephala L. (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae), is a major pest of oilseed rape, Brassica napus L. (Brassicaceae), within the UK and continental Europe. Following the withdrawal of many broad-spectrum pesticides, most importantly neonicotinoids, and with increased incidence of pyrethroid resistance, few chemical control options remain, resulting in the need for alternative pest management strategies. We identified the parasitoid wasp Microctonus brassicae (Haeselbarth) (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) within CSFB collected from three independent sites in Norfolk, UK. Parasitism of adult CSFB was confirmed, and wasp oviposition behaviour was described. Moreover, we show that within captive colonies parasitism rates are sufficient to generate significant biological control of CSFB populations. A sequence of the M. brassicae mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase 1 (MT-CO1) gene was generated for rapid future identification. Moroccan specimens of Microctonus aethiopoides (Loan), possessing 90% sequence similarity, were the closest identified sequenced species. This study represents the first description published in English of this parasitoid of the adult cabbage stem flea beetle.