One day everything in the garden looks good then, seemingly overnight, the damage starts to show up, especially on vegetables. Leaves will appear riddled with holes, often lacey looking. These symptoms are the result of flea beetle activity. Flea beetles are common pests of many vegetable crops, but they will also damage flowers and shrubs. The adult flea beetle is small and often shiny. If disturbed, they will jump hence the name “flea beetle”. Flea beetles will attack most vegetables. They particularly like plants in the cabbage family, potatoes and spinach, but they will also feed on flowers, shrubs and weeds, depending on the availability of food.
Flea beetles winter over in the garden under debris or leaf litter and emerge as temperatures warm up in the spring.
Flea beetle can be controlled with dusts such as Captain Jacks DeadBug (Spinosad), or liquids such as Bonide Eight or Neem oil.
Diatomaceous earth can also be very effective when applied directly to the plant and surrounding soil.
Floating row cover is made from a woven cloth that allows light and moisture in, but keeps bugs out. The key to row covers is to keep the edges sealed so the bugs cannot get in. Do not install row covers if beetles or other insects are already present. Treat the crops first to remove any insects then install the row cover to prevent further damage.