Oulema melanopa L Cereal leaf beetle

This beetle is an often common but usually minor pest of cereals, including sweet corn, and grasses; minor infestations also occur on ornamental grasses. Damage is identical to that caused by Oulema lichenis (above); the beetles are also virus vectors.


The life-history of this species is essentially similar to that of Oulema lichenis (above), except that pupation occurs in the soil and development from egg to adult tends to be less rapid, averaging about 6 weeks. Further, larvae remain coated in excrement throughout their development. In common with the previous species, development is favoured by hot, dry conditions.


Adult 4.0-4.8mm long; head and antennae black; thorax light reddish-brown; legs reddish-yellow with blackish tarsi; elytra bluish-green, elongate and noticeably broader than thorax. Egg 1 mm long, elongate-oval, shiny yellow. Larva up to 6 mm long; head shiny black; body dirty yellowish, coated with brownish or blackish excrement (Plate 4c).

NOTE Adults of the polygonum leaf beetle, Gastrophysa polygoni (p. 143), are often present in cereal crops and are frequently mistaken for those of Oulema melanopa. Polygonum leaf beetles are broader and more rounded in outline than adults of Oulema. They feed on Polygonum aviculare but do not attack cereals or grasses.

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