Habits and Identification of Flea Beetles
Flea Beetle is a generic name applied to many species of small jumping beetles commonly seen early in the gardening season. They are somewhat elongated to oval in shape, and vary in color, pattern, and size. There are dozens of varieties. Adult flea beetles are about 1/10 of an inch long. They're dark colored black and brown, sometimes bronze. They have enlarged hind legs and can jump incredible distances given their size. Flea Beetle larvae live in the soil, they are pale and thin legless grubs with brown heads.
Flea beetles will attack most vegetables, cabbage-family plants, potatoes, eggplant and spinach are some of their favorite venue. They will also devour flowers and weeds.
Symptoms of flea-beetle feeding are small, rounded, irregular holes . Some species also transmit plant diseases such as potato blight and bacterial wilt . More damage is done by the larvae, which feed on plant roots. The adults emerge in spring and may feed on weeds and less-desirable vegetation until crop plants become available. As a result, they are frequent pests in seedbeds and on new transplants.
Adults emerge from the soil in the spring, they feed voraciously and lay eggs on plant roots. They die out by mid summer. The eggs will hatch in about a week, and the larvae feed for up to 3 weeks. They return to the soil to pupate, and the subsequent generation emerges in about 2 to 3 weeks.
Flea Beetles can produce up to four generations annually before overwintering.
Organic Control of Flea Beetles
Flea Beetles are an early season pest.
1. Planting crops that are susceptible later in the season will help to avoid the most devastating generation.
2. Cultivate the soil around plants before and after planting to destroy eggs and larvae.
3. Flea beetles prefer weedy cooler areas. Weed control in and around planting sites to deprive larvae of food sources is vital.
4. Removal of old crop debris and surface trash to deprive over wintering beetles protective cover.
5. The rotation or isolation of current-year plantings from those of the previous year. and proper crop rotation are good cultural practices for the suppression of flea and other pest problems.
6. Intermingle herbal deterrents such as dill, parsley, anise, garlic, catnip,and mint. All these plants are known to deter flea beetles.
Cedarcide is also an effective deterrent of flea Beetles and a large array of other insect pests.