are small (1/16th to 1/8th of an inch), black or brown beetles with
hard shells. They jump like fleas when disturbed. Adults overwinter
in the soil and on plant debris.
Life Cycle of
Eggplant Flea Beetle
They emerge in
spring and feed on weeds until vegetable garden crops are planted.
After feeding briefly, they lay their eggs in the soil. Tiny gray
grubs hatch in two or three weeks, and feed on plant roots and the
surface of the leaves. Fortunately, larval feeding does not usually
cause damage to plants. Then they pupate in the soil and hatch out
as adults, which may feed for two months. The tiny holes in the
leaves are characteristic of adult feeding.
controls include good weed control in and around the vegetable
garden. This removes the alternate food source for the overwintering
adults until garden transplants are planted out in the garden. Good
garden sanitation -- the prompt removal of annual vegetable plants
at the end of the growing season -- also helps eliminate
are much more damaging to young transplants than more mature plants.
If you can protect the young plants until they start producing
fruits, you should get a good yield. If you practice crop rotation,
you can exclude flea beetle adults from susceptible crops with
floating row covers (Reemay, Garden Blanket). Plant the transplants
and cover them with the floating row cover. Leave enough excess
fabric to allow room for the plants to grow, then seal the edges
Once the plants
are half-grown and start to bloom, you will have to remove the
covers to allow bees and other pollinators to work the flowers. At
that point, monitor the plants to see how large a population of flea
beetles is active on them. If their population is not high, the
plants can probably live with them. Otherwise, you can begin
protecting them with insecticide applications.
Other Flea Beetle Options
is to use a kaolin clay product such as Surround. This is a particle
film that is sprayed on plants and protects them by creating a
physical barrier to pest feeding and egg laying. Kaolin clay has a
couple modes of action; it may make host plants unrecognizable to
pests and it acts as an irritant to them. You can use it instead of
row covers or begin using it once you remove the row covers. Kaolin
clay is a thick material and works best with sprayers that have
mechanical agitation to keep the clay particles in solution. You may
find that it clogs conventional pump-up sprayers.
labeled to control flea beetles include botanical insecticides
containing pyrethrins (Pyganic), biological insecticides such as
spinosad (Captain Jackís Deadbug Brew), as well as conventional
insecticides such as Sevin (carbaryl). Some formulations of neem (azadirachtin)
may also be effective. Always read and follow label directions for
mixing instructions and intervals between applications.
Pepper Plant Problems
Whitefly control with soap