Host Range of Cotton Flea Beetle (Podagrica puncticollis) in a Hot Dry Tropical Environment of Ethiopia
Cotton flea beetle, Podagrica puncticollis is the most destructive insect pest of cotton in north-western part of Ethiopia. This study was conducted to identify and determine the host range of cotton flea beetle in Metema area. The field survey was undertaken from June 27, 2015 to January 9, 2016 in ten kebele administrations of the district. At least three fields were prospected after every 15 days, in each kebele for host plants as well as to determine population density and percent leaf damage by adult cotton flea beetle, at different growth stages of cotton plant. The composition of plant species with damaged symptom or infested by flea beetle was analysed using quantitative means and identified by comparing specimens with description of identification manuals. A total of 11 host plant species of cotton flea beetle were identified in the cotton growing areas of Metema throughout a season. Indigofera longibarbata (Fabaceae), Hibiscus articulatus, H. cannabinus, H. vitifolius, Abutilon figarianum, Sida alba and S. urens (Malvaceae), Bidens pilosa and B. setigera (Asteraceae), Corchorus olitorius and C. trilocularis (Tiliaceae) found to be common host plants of cotton flea beetle. Thus, among the host plants, H. vitifolius, H. cannabinus, H. articulatus, C. olitorius and C. trilocularis were the most suitable hosts for adult cotton flea beetle in respect of the number of adults per plant and percent foliage damage they sustained. These findings could aid in developing longterm management strategies for this important insect pest existing in a hot dry tropical environment of north-western Ethiopia.
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