The pesky yellowmargined leaf beetle has no trouble surviving cold temperatures, suggesting that it could spread much farther north than its current range along the Gulf Coast.
Based on work led by University of Florida entomologist Ron Cave, the beetle may survive in Kansas, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky and Virginia, according to a news release.
Although the pest, which feeds on cole crops, can be controlled with foliar insecticides, organic producers don't have that option.
As a result, researchers are exploring several biological control options, including the spined soldier bug, green lacewing, trap crops and fungi that attack the beetle's larvae.
Regardless, Cave recommends cole crop producers scout fields thoroughly in the early fall to catch infestations before they become too severe.
Native to South America, the yellowmargined leaf beetle was first reported in the United States in 1945.
It is now found in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina.
Larvae and adults feed on the leaves of many cole crops, with turnips being the preferred host.
It also will feed on mustard, radish, collard, watercress, bok choy and napa cabbage.