15 May 2001
MAFF issues Colorado beetle alert

By FWI staff

THE UK has been placed on alert to detect and capture the Colorado beetle, a notifiable quarantine pest which can seriously damage potato crops.

Importers, growers, gardeners, traders and consumers are being asked by the Ministry of Agriculture to look out for the 10mm Leptinotarsa decemlineata.

The beetles are not established in the UK but come into the country on goods such as leafy vegetables, herbs, potatoes, fruit, grain, seeds and timber.

People travelling from the continent should check cars and luggage, says MAFF, as a breeding colony could be established by a single female beetle.

The adult beetle has ten alternate black and yellow stripes running down its back, and in shape resembles an overgrown ladybird.

Its larvae is between three and ten millimetres long with black heads and bodies which are deep orange/brown to pinkish/red colour with black markings.

They move freely and feed on potato foliage, defoliating from the leaf margins and leaving oily black excreta.

MAFF says Colorado beetle larvae should not be mistaken for pupae of the ladybird, which are similar in shape and colour but do not move.

Anyone who thinks they have found a Colorado beetle, alive or dead, should put it in a sealed container and take it to a police station or local MAFF office,

Any packaging material in which it was found should also be included.

It is feared that climate change could lead to the return of the pest which has not bred colony in Britain since 1977. .


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