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Cereal Leaf Beetle Oulema melanopus / Oulema duftschmidi

What we call the Cereal Leaf Beetle actually is one of two species. It is either Oulema melanopus or Oulema duftschmidi. These are two separate species, but you can not tell them apart in the field. To be sure of the identification you have to catch male animals, kill them and examine their genitals. As we didn't do that to the animals in the pictures, we can't tell you which species we are talking about. So we will stick to Cereal Leaf Beetle instead.

The Cereal Leaf Beetle has a black head. The neck shield is reddish brown mainly and so are the legs. The shields are dark blue. It is not a very big species, measuring about 5 or 6 mm. The first adults appear in April, after overwintering in their pupation cocoon. The females deposit their yellow-brownish eggs in rows os 6 to 8 on the underside of a leaf. The larvae appear some 10 to 14 days later. They eat during a period of two to three weeks, then dig a little hole in the underground and pupate within a cocoon. The larvae feed on a wide range of grasses, including cultivated barley, oat, rice, wheat etc. They are capable of detroying the major part of the harvest. Pesticides are not very effect, but natural enemies are. Various species of parasitic wasps are bred nowadays and they are very effective in controlling the infests. Even Lady Birds are used, for they and their larvae will eat the young larvae of the Cereal Leaf Beetle. The Cereal Leaf Beetle is very common in Europe, Northern and Central Asia, Northern America and Northern Africa.

The Cereal Leaf Beetle is also known as the Red-throated Leaf Beetle, the Red-Throated Cereal Leaf Beetle, The Barley Leaf Beetle and various other names referring to cereal. Both species are also known as Lema melanopus and Lema duftschmidi.