The flea beetle Aphthona whitfieldi Bryant (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) is the main pest of the bioenergy crop Jatropha curcas L. (Euphorbiaceae) in Burkina Faso and several other West African countries. Adults severely defoliate plants, resulting in seedling mortality, poor growth, and low yields. To study the population dynamics of the pest in the Sissili Province of Burkina Faso, 12 sites were monitored weekly during a year and 31 sites were inspected for damage at the peak period of insect abundance. The effect of cropping systems (hedge, intercropping, and monoculture) and surrounding vegetation on population densities of A. whitfieldi was assessed. Beetles were rarely found in the dry season and peaked in the second half of the rainy season. The cropping system did not significantly influence the abundance and attack level. In contrast, the close vicinity of fallow lands seems to increase damage levels. Many aspects of the biology and ecology of A. whitfieldi remain to be investigated before sustainable control methods can be developed. However, this study already allows us to propose recommendations for further research on management.
- Bioenergy crop