With neonicotinoid insecticides banned, wasps might help UK canola growers combat cabbage stem flea beetle

microctonus brassicae a parasitoid targeting the adult cabbage stem flea beetle psylliodes chrysocephala x

Researchers have determined that the Microctonus brassicae wasp species, and genetically similar parasitic wasps, could be used in controlled conditions as a biocontrol to protect oilseed rape and other crops from damaging pests.

A species of parasitic wasp discovered by chance could provide crop growers with a chemical-free way of controlling a major pest, according to researchers from the John Innes Centre.

The John Innes Centre researchers made the discovery when the wasps appeared in colonies of cabbage stem flea beetles (CSFB) they were studying to test feeding preferences on oilseed rape. The wasps appeared even though the beetles were confined to potted oilseed rape plants inside micro-perforated bags.

Related article:  Scientists hunting Asian hornet—invasive 'honey bee killer' spotted in U.K.

The beetle has become a prominent pest in the UK, particularly in East Anglia, and surrounding counties, following the European ban on neonicotinoid seed treatment use in flowering crops. Figures for 2014 value damage at £23 million with an approximate loss of 3.5 percent of the national crop area of winter oilseed rape to CSFB.

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