Epitrix papa: a newly described species previously misidentified as E. similaris in the EPPO region
In 2004, unusual damage (superficial galleries and shallow holes) was detected on potato tubers in Northern Portugal (EPPO RS 2009/022). This damage was caused by larvae of flea beetles belonging to the genera Epitrix. The pest found in Portugal was identified as Epitrix similaris, a North American species which was previously unknown in Europe. In 2008, E. similaris was also detected in nearby Spain (EPPO RS 2011/078, 2014/068). At the same time, another North American pest, E. cucumeris was found in Northern Portugal but experiments and observations showed that E. similaris was the main cause of damage to potato crops. However, the identity of E. similaris was queried by several experts for the following reasons: 1) E. similaris is not regarded as a pest in North America; 2) E. similaris is a rare species, therefore its probability of spreading to another continent was considered to be low; 3) E. similaris has a very restricted distribution being recorded only in California and it is believed that the introduction of Epitrix spp. into Portugal was linked to imports of seed potatoes from the Canadian provinces of Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick (where E. similaris is not known to occur). A comparison of 20 specimens of ‘E. similaris’ from Portugal has revealed that the species present there is not E. similaris (and not any other known species of Epitrix) but a new species which has been called Epitrix papa. In conclusion, the pest which has been recorded in Portugal and Spain on potato tubers is not E. similaris but E. papa.
Based on observations previously made in Portugal, the host range of E. papa is given as follows: Solanum tuberosum, S. melongena, S. nigrum, S. lycopersicum and Datura stramonium. Its geographical distribution covers Portugal and Spain, but its native range is unknown for the moment. It is quite probable that E. papa occurs in North America but this remains to be verified. It is stressed that a revision of the genus Epitrix is now needed to identify the native range of E. papa. Finally, these changes in taxonomy should also be reflected in the EPPO A1/A2 Lists and other national quarantine lists, as E. papa (and not E. similaris) is indeed the species which has been introduced into the EPPO region.
Orlova-Bienkowskaja MJ (2015) Epitrix papa sp. n. (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae: Galerucinae: Alticini), previously misidentified as Epitrix similaris, is a threat to potato production in Europe. European Journal of Entomology 112(4) DOI: 10.14411/eje.2015.096. http://www.eje.cz/pdfs/eje/2015/04/28.pdf