Cereal leaf beetles (CLBs), a group of chrysomelid beetles of the genus Oulema (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae), are well-known pest insects of small-grain cereals in many countries of the Northern hemisphere. Due to the small differences in morphology of species within this genus, classification up to species level remains a challenging task. Since an accurate view of species composition is important for developing targeted control strategies, the goal of this study was to unravel the Oulema species composition in Flanders' wheat fields. During three subsequent years at a series of different fields, Oulema species were collected and classified up to species level (2016: 28 fields, 2017: 30 fields, and 2018: 23 fields). This study reveals that the population consists of four different species: Oulema melanopus, Oulema duftschmidi, and Oulema obscura were most frequently encountered, while Oulema rufocyanea was only marginally present. Furthermore, the population was highly dynamic, as the population share of each species varied between different growing seasons and between the various sampling events within each season. The distance from the field edge had a minor influence on the species composition, but the abundance of beetles increased with the distance to the field edge. A discriminant analysis revealed that based on the measurements of various body parts, an accurate classification up to species level is possible. In conclusion, we observed that the population densities fluctuated within and between years, resulting in variable incidence of CLB in winter wheat fields in the Flanders region.
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Vol. 48 • No. 2