Red Headed Flea Beetle Adults Active in Container Nurseries in Eastern NC

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Be on the lookout for red headed flea beetles (Systena frontalis) across the eastern region of NC in container nursery production. I found adults feeding on 3 gallon forsythia today (May 7, 2020) at a nursery in Cumberland County.
Red headed flea beetle

Red headed flea beetle adult and feeding damage on forsythia.

I found one young itea plant with feeding damage but did not see an adult on last year’s crop (finished plants) or this year’s crop (just potted in February), but they are surely there or will be soon. Growing Degree Days (based on 50 degrees F in that area are in the 860 to 960 range. Itea virginica plants are in full bloom at this nursery and Magnolia virginiana and Magnolia grandiflora cultivars are at first bloom.
Magnolia grandiflora

Magnolia grandiflora first bloom.

Itea in flower

Itea in flower.

You can find links to red headed flea beetle resource articles and information on my website.
One link I do not have on that site is the red headed flea beetle trial information from the IR-4 program.
Red headed flea beetle information is on pages 40-55. It is not all-inclusive but does provide some good information.
If you have not been scouting, now is the time to start. If you have questions about your management program for this insect contact your local Extension agent, area specialized agent, or I.
As a side note, I also thoroughly scouted container-grown magnolias for poplar weevil based on the outbreak we had last year. I did not find any current activity but will continue to monitor. Note that this nursery had very light damage from poplar weevil last year.