Raphidopalpa foveicollis, Red Pumpkin Beetle

Host: This is a serious pest of cucurbits throughout the country. It infests all gourds, cucumber, melon, pumpkin etc.

Damage: Both larvae and adults cause damage to the crop. Adults bite holes on the leaves, reducing the photosynthetic area of the leaf and thus lowering production. Flowers and fruits are also damaged by the adults. Seedlings are totally destroyed. When population increases damage to the crop is extensive. Larvae live in soil and feed on the roots and stems. Even fruits touching the ground are destroyed by the larvae which penetrate into the fruit.

Life cycle: Adults are small bright reddish beetles, 4-7 mm long, active beetles, flying from plant to plants and feeding on leaves. Hibernation takes place in adult stage from November to March in northern India, usually in debris or under stones or other hiding places. Longevity of adult is more than a month. Fecundity is 150-300 eggs per female. Eggs are brownish-yellow in colour, elongated, laid singly or in batches in moist soil. Incubation period is 5-8 days after which tiny larvae hatch out and enter the soil. Larvae grow by feeding on the debris and on roots and stems of plants. There are four larval instars and larvae must enter the soil each time they have to moult. Larval period is 18-25 days, which is spent mostly in soil. Pupation also takes place in the soil in a waterproof cocoon up to a depth of 25 cm. Adults emerge and make their way out of the soil.

Distribution: The pest occurs throughout India and neighbouring countries.

Control: Field sanitation is also effective in controlling larvae which inhabit soil. Soil treatment with BHC, DDT, endrin, dieldrin or neem kernel also controls larvae. Adults can be controlled by spraying a mixture of lime and calcium arsenate or parathion 0.025% or phosphamidon 0.04%.