Host plant choice and location by larvae of the wheat bulb fly (Delia coarctata)

Charles Marriott, KA Evans

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4 Citations (Scopus)


Wheat bulb fly (Delia coarctata Fallen, Diptera: Anthomyiidae) is an important pest of winter wheat in the eastern half of the UK, and in northern and eastern Europe. The larvae must find a host plant and invade a tiller soon after hatching in late January. Chemical controls are costly and weather conditions may reduce their efficacy or prevent their application. Post‐emergence control relies on organophosphate insecticides, which may soon be withdrawn due to concerns about their negative health and environmental effects. Winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) is the preferred cereal host, but other winter cereals and related grasses may also be attacked, while oats (Avena spp.) are shunned. In choice test bioassays, neonate larvae chose couch grass (Elytrigia repens (L.) Nevski syn. Elymus repens (L.) Gould, Agropyearon repens (L.) Beauv.) seedlings and exudates over wheat seedlings and exudates, and exhibited geotaxis and negative phototaxis. Analysis of larval trails in choice test bioassays of seedling exudates showed that couch exudates are more attractive than wheat exudates, and that wheat exudates are more arrestant than couch exudates. This suggests that infochemicals isolated from couch, wheat, and oats could be used in wheat bulb fly control; possible delivery mechanisms are discussed. These findings, previous research, and a comparison of the phenologies and geographical distributions of D. coarctata and its hosts suggest that E. repens is the natural host of D. coarctata.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-6
JournalEntomologia Experimentalis et Applicata
Issue number1
Publication statusPrint publication - Jan 2003


  • Anthomyiidae
  • Choice test bioassays
  • Pest management


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