The flea beetle, Aphthona nigriscutis Foudras, is a potentially useful agent for biological control of leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula L.) in grasslands devoted to wildlife conservation. However, effects of other grassland management practices on the persistence and dynamics of flea beetle populations are not well understood. We conducted small plot tests to evaluate 1) the effect of prerelease burning on establishment of A. nigriscutis colonies, and 2) the ability of established A. nigriscutis colonies to survive prescribed fire. More colonies established on plots that were burned prior to beetle release (83% establishment) than on unburned plots (37% establishment), possibly due to litter reduction and baring of the soil surface. However, most colonies established with the aid of fire did not survive past the first generation unless the habitat was otherwise suitable for the species, and we conclude that the primary benefit of prerelease burning is increased recruitment of A. nigriscutis during the first few generations. Established colonies were not harmed by burns in October and May. Both spring and fall burns resulted in an increase in leafy spurge stem density during the first growing season, but stem density declined to the preburn level by the second growing season.
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Prescribed fire effects on biological control of leafy spurge