Flea beetlesÂ are veryÂ small (3-5mm) and are various colours ranging from yellow, brown, grey to black.Â
Flea Beetles-Iowa State University Entomology Department
There are over 4000 species found worldwide. They hop all over when a host plant is disturbed. Hand picking is not possible with these guys.
Larvae-Ralph E. Berry, Oregon State University Entomology Dept.
Habitat and Lifecycle
They occur everywhere in the world. They overwinter as adults in weeds and garden debris. Females lay their eggs in the soil near the host plants. Larvae hatch and feed on the roots for a few weeks before climbing up the stems to the leaves. There they feed for another few weeks before becoming adults. There may be as many as 3-4 generations per year.
Damage-Home and Garden Information Center (left), Damage and beetles-NC State University (right)
Diet and Damage
They attack EVERYTHING! (ornamentals, veggies, trees, weeds and grasses) Are they beneficial? Not normally but some flea beetles feed on weeds and have been used to combat unwanted weeds in many places in the world. They are generally plant specific. Their names are derived from the types of plants they eat. They eat the leaves and fruits of anything. They poke tiny holes in the leaves from the undersides, giving them a ‘shot-hole’ appearance. In great numbers they will stunt or destroy your plants. Mature plants have a better chance of survival as only the lower leaves seem to be affected.
1) Remove Weeds
Keep the perimeters of your garden free of weeds and keep your garden area free of debris to make sure they do not overwinter in your yard.
2) Soap/garlic sprays
Spray the undersides of the leaves before they become adults. Otherwise use a garlic hot pepper spray, they hate the smell of it.
3) Make a Sticky Trap
Cut a piece of cardboard and cover it with tanglefoot or any other sticky substance like molasses, shake the plant and wave the trap to catch them when they hop.
4) Companion Plants
Marigolds and garlic can help repel flea beetles
5) Wood Ashes
Wood Ashes spread around the base of plants will help prevent them.