How to Manage Pests

Pests in Gardens and Landscapes

Flea beetles

Flea beetles are small, shiny beetles with black legs enlarged for jumping.

Identification of species | Life cycle

Damage

Adults feed mostly on leaves, leaving tiny pits or small holes at their feeding sites. Flea beetles feeding together can cover leaves with bleached, pitted areas or ragged holes. Damage is not usually serious beyond early seedling stage. On carrots, larvae may cause sunken spots on roots. On eggplants and potato tubers, larvae feed on roots and stems and can create straight, narrow tunnels in tubers providing an entry for fungi. Small raised bumps may be on surface of tubers.

Solutions

Remove debris in the fall to remove any overwintering beetles. Seedlings can be protected with protective coverings until they are in the sixth leaf stage; older plants are less likely to suffer damage. Reflective mulches applied very soon after planting and before plants become infected can be helpful. White sticky traps can be used to monitor or trap adults. Insecticides should not normally be necessary and are not very effective when populations are high. Sulfur containing pesticides may be repellent. Often only a few outside rows will require treatment. Carbaryl sprays can provide some control where infestations are serious.

Potato flea beetle
Potato flea beetle

Holes in leaves
Holes in leaves

Tunnels in tuber
Tunnels in tuber


Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
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