The Major Insect Pests of Oilseed Rape in Europe and Their Management: An Overview

Chapter

Abstract

The oilseed rape crop in Europe is attacked by six major pests that often require control by growers to protect seed yield: the cabbage stem flea beetle, pollen beetle, cabbage seed weevil, cabbage stem weevil, rape stem weevil and brassica pod midge. These attack the crop successively at various growth stages and damage different parts of the plant. They are all widespread but their relative importance varies with country and year. Their control is still mainly through the application of chemical insecticides, often applied prophylactically. The pollen beetle has developed widespread resistance to pyrethroids, the main group of insecticides now used, increasing the urgency for alternative control strategies. The past decade has seen considerable progress in our knowledge of the parasitoids, predators and pathogens that contribute to biocontrol of the pests and of how to incorporate biocontrol into integrated pest management systems. More efficient targeting of insecticides in time and space can be achieved using economic thresholds, crop monitoring and computer-based decision support systems. Push-pull strategies are being developed that use host plant preferences and behavioural responses to semiochemicals to influence pest and natural enemy distributions on the crop. There is also potential for natural enemy conservation through modification of within-field crop husbandry practices as well as, on the landscape scale, through habitat and environmental manipulation to encourage vegetational diversity of the agroecosystem incorporating hedgerows, cover crops, flowering conservation headlands and field margins to provide refuge, food, overwintering sites and alternative prey or hosts for natural enemies.

Keywords

Crop husbandry Decision support Economic thresholds Landscape diversification Targeted chemical control 

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Estonian University of Life SciencesTartuEstonia

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