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Flea Beetle

FAST FACTS - FLEA BEETLES
by Nanette Londeree, Master Rosarian

SIGNS

  • Small (1/10 inch), black, brown or bronze insect with enlarged hind legs found on leaves, buds and open blooms of many vegetables, fruit (including grapes), flowers, and weeds that jump like a flea

    SYMPTOMS

  • Small "shotholes" in the foliage (adults)
  • “Snaky” markings on potatoes and other root crops (larvae)

    CAUSE

  • Larvae and adult forms of flea beetles belonging to the family Chrysomelidae, found throughout North America

    OPTIMAL CONDITIONS

  • Typically become active during warm days
  • Multiple generations per year in warm climates
  • Like to hide in cool, weedy areas

    TREATMENT

    Prevention:

  • Maintain good garden sanitation; control weeds in and around the garden or vegetable area and eliminate, as much as possible, trash in which the beetles can over winter
  • If present on other vegetable or fruit crops, cultivate frequently to kill eggs and remove infected plants after harvest
  • Thick mulches may also help reduce the number by interfering with activity of the root and soil stages
  • Diatomaceous earth is one of the more effective repellents, applied as a dry powder to the plants
  • Horticultural oils and some neem insecticides also have some repellent effect
  • Encourage beneficial nematodes

    Elimination:

  • Insecticides should not normally be necessary and are not very effective when populations are high
  • Organic treatments include garlic and hot pepper sprays, rotenone and pyrethrum, sabadilla
  • Sulfur containing pesticides may be repellent
  • Garden insecticides containing carbaryl (Sevin), spinosad, bifenthrin and permethrin can provide fairly good control for about a week

    GOOD GUY / BAD GUY?

  • Generally only a nuisance for roses; injuries are usually minor and easily outgrown on established plants. May be a more significant pest for the vegetable garden, where seedlings are most at risk. Used as a beneficial for some crop pests.

    Photo from the Ohio State University website.


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    Last Modified: 08/06/2013