Chemical Ecology of Microtheca ochroloma

2002 Annual Report for GS02-019

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2002: $3,057.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2004
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $6,037.00
Grant Recipient: University of Florida
Region: Southern
State: Florida
Graduate Student:
Major Professor:
Susan Webb
University of Florida
Major Professor:
Dr. Marilyn Swisher
University of Florida

Chemical Ecology of Microtheca ochroloma


The yellowmargined leaf beetle, Microtheca ochroloma, is a serious foliar pest of high-value cruciferous crops in Florida. Preliminary investigations indicate that the location of oversummer dormancy is correlated to subsequent yellowmargined leaf beetle outbreaks and that host plant finding by the yellowmargined leaf beetle is at least partially chemically mediated.

Objectives/Performance Targets

Objective 1: To demonstrate the extent to which chemical mechanisms (not climatic factors) which cause aestivating beetles to break diapause.
Objective 2: To determine if proximity to old feeding sites determines location of new beetle outbreaks.
Objective 3: To determine what chemical cues (plant- insect and insect-insect) active beetles (both larvae and adults) use to located host plants.


Several things happened during the spring of 2002 which delayed the start of this project. First, I obtained unexpected results from the spring field season. The field experiments were to provide the basis for the SARE funded laboratory work. The delay in processing and interpreting these results led me to put off beginning work on the SARE grant. During the spring, I consulted with additional sources, who advised me to modify my project in order to meet the objectives more effectively. Finally, farmers who reported beetle outbreaks in previous years did not report seeing beetles during the autumn of 2002. Beetles were collected from the field in December 2002 and a small colony is currently being established for experimental purposes. I have incorporated the suggested changes and am waiting for a delivery of equipment within the next weeks to begin this project.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

The results of this research can be used by organic farmers to develop cultural controls for the yellowmargined leaf beetle based on the biology and ecology of the beetle.


Susan Webb
Associate Professor
University of Florida
Department of Entomology and Nematology
PO Box 110620
Gainesville, FL 32611-0620
Office Phone: 3523921901
Rose Koenig
Organic farmer
Rosie's Organic Farm
1717 SW 120th Terrace
Gainesville, FL 32607
Office Phone: 3523311804
Mickie Swisher
Associate Professor
University of Florida
PO Box 110310
Gainesville, FL 32611-0310
Office Phone: 3523922202