NC State Extension Publications

Strawberry Rootworm on Ornamentals

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The strawberry rootworm, Paria fragariae, is the grub of a small leaf beetle that usually feeds at night. In North Carolina, adult Paria leaf beetles are active from at least April through November. Adult strawberry rootworms are brown, shiny, oval-shaped beetles with four dark blotches on the top wings. These beetles are about 1/8 inch long. The slender, creamy white rootworms are slightly longer. Adult beetles overwinter in mulch or soil crevices and become active in April and May. At night, they eat small holes in leaves, and females lay eggs on older leaves near the soil surface. Larvae burrow into the ground to feed on strawberry roots during the summer. Mature rootworms pupate in the soil. New adults begin emerging in mid-summer, and these beetles feed on foliage through early fall.

Strawberry rootworm adults a

Strawberry rootworm adults are small, dark beetles.

Strawberry rootworm adults feed mostly at night.

Strawberry rootworm adults feed mostly at night.

Strawberry rootworms themselves do realtively little damage.

Strawberry rootworms themselves do realtively little damage.

Strawberry rootworms pupate under ground.

Strawberry rootworms pupate under ground.

Host Plants

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We have had records of strawberry rootworm adults on azalea, sourwood, rhododendron, and, of course, strawberry. Strawberry rootworm adults chew small, oval or round holes into the upper leaf surface. Perhaps because of their small size, strawberry rootworms do negligible damage to the roots of plants.

Strawberry rootworm adult beetles chew holes in leaves.

Strawberry rootworm adult beetles chew holes in leaves.

Residential Recommendations

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Strawberry rootworm adults feed primarily at night. To scout for them use a flashlight to examine plants after dark. Pyrethroid insecticides should give more than adequate control of Paria leaf beetle because pyrethroids are effective for such leaf feeders, they has a long residual life on the plant, and they are relatively safe for humans and pets. Sevin should also give adequate control, but Sevin does not have a long residual life and it may have to be reapplied for complete control. Pyrethroid and Sevin insecticides are available at most big box stores, nurseries, and garden centers.

References

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For assistance with a specific problem, contact your local Cooperative Extension Center.

This Factsheet has not been peer reviewed.

Author

Professor Emeritus
Entomology and Plant Pathology

Publication date: Aug. 16, 2017
Revised: Aug. 18, 2021

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