Flea Beetle Description
You can see the tiny Flea Beetle to the right and the typical damage they cause. They are about 1/10 of an inch in size and will jump like fleas if you hit the leaf. The larvae are in the soil so you don't see them. Flea beetle larvae can overwinter and often emerge in spring.
|Flea beetle damage|
Signs of Flea Beetle Damage
- Flea Beetles attack young plants.
- They create a shotgun type damage on leaves.
- Essentially they suck your plants dry.
- They like Brassicas such as broccoli.
- Seedlings are mysteriously shriveling and dying.
Because Flea Beetles like young plants it is best to cover crops with row cover when setting seedlings out. Once your plants are established the beetles really are inconsequential. If you are worried about them from a previous year you should drench the soil with parasitic nematodes to devour the larvae. You can buy these at your garden store or online. Be sure to do when temperatures are at the suggested level.
To get rid of an infestation use Spinosad. Spray the leaves as the day is warming up, but not when plants are cooking in the sun. I like to water one day, as droughts encourage them, and then spray the next morning about 11 am. They tend to come out from the soil when it's warmer. You will need to repeat probably every 5 days- with three treatments total. This should break the cycle, but watch to see if any reappear in 14 days. Make sure to time this around your watering as you do not want to go to the trouble of spraying the beasties and then wash it off.
If your seedlings are being attacked you can be almost sure if they make it to a certain growth point (3 sets of true leaves) the Flea Beetles will not effect them.