Raphidopalpa foveicollis (The red pumpkin-beetle)

Raphidopalpa foveicollis  (Red pumpkin-beetle)

Classification

  • Class– Insecta
  • Order– Coleoptera
  • Family– Chrysomelidae
  • GenusRaphidopalpa
  • Speciesfoveicollis

Distribution 

Raphidopalpa foveicollis is also known as Aulacophora foveicollis and is widely distributed throughout Asia, Africa, Australia and Southern Europe. In India it is a serious pest in north western part.

Food (Host) plants 

Cucurbitaceous vegetables i.e., pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo L.), ghia tori (Luffa aegyptica), tinda (Citrullus vulgaris), cucumber, melon etc. are host plants of this beetle.

General appearance 

The adult beetles are oblong, measure about 5-8 mm in length and 3.4-3.75 mm in breadth. The body is brilliant orange red coloured on the dorsal side while black on the abdomen. The abdominal region is covered with whitish soft hairs. Other species that cause damage to the vegetable crops is Aulacophora atripennis F. having grey coloured body.

Life history 

The adult beetles hibernate from November to February in groups under dry weeds, bushes, grasses, plant remains or in crevices of the soil. After hibernation period beetles come out as season warms up in the beginning of March. The female, after mating, lays orange coloured oval eggs singly or in small clusters of 8-9 in the moist soil near the base of host plants. Single female can lay about 300 eggs. After 6-15 days of incubation period eggs are hatched into grubs. The newly hatched grubs are creamy yellow coloured and are provided with a brown head and prothorax. Since grubs remain below the soil surface, they start feeding on roots, underground stems of creepers, old fallen leaves and fruits of their host plants lying in contact with the soil. After 13-25 days they attain full grown grub stage by passing through 4 moults. Now full grown grubs move in the soil and get pupated in smooth, thick-walled, oval and waterproof earthen chambers in the soil at the depth of about 1 cm. After 7-17 days of pupal period the adult beetle emegres out and begins to feed on the host plants. After 7 days of emergence, beetle starts egg laying. The life cycle is completed in 26-37 days and generally 5 overlapping generations have been recorded from March to October.

Damage 

The beetles as well as grubs both are destructive stages. Maximum damage of cucurbitaceous vegetable plants is caused by these beetles. They feed on the leaves, flowers and buds of younger plants. If the attack is severe the plants are found completely defoliated. The extent of damage is highest in the months of March and April due to the feeding on the germinating plants by the beetle. The grubs bore into the roots, underground stems and fruits of host plants touching the soil surface.

Prevention and control 

  1. Beetles may be collected by hand nets and killed in kerosene oil.
  2. Cucurbitaceous vegetable plants should be sown earlier in November.
  3. Early varieties of cucurbitaceous vegetable should be grown.
  4. During the months of March and April younger plants should be dusted by ash.
  5. After harvesting, fields should be ploughed.
  6. Carbaryl or pyrethrum 5% should be dusted on crops when there is no dew on the plants.
  7. Spraying of methyl parathion or dimethoate 0.02% or malathion 0.05% have proved to be more effective.
  8. Spraying with lindane 0.1% at the rate of 200-300 litres per acre is also effective to reduce the pest population.

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