Flea beetles, like fleas, can jump over several times their own height - which is how they get their name!
Flea beetles attack plants at the seedling stage - especially plants belonging to the cabbage and radish family.
Flea beetles are a collection of small beetles, the most common is Phyllotreta undulata, a flea beetle which has a yellow stripe down each wingcase. Phyllotreta nemorum is another type of flea beetle which has a yellow stripe. There are also vaieties which are plain black.
All types of flea beetle hibernate among rubbish in hedgebottoms and garden rubbish and compost heaps, flying as far as a kilometre in quest of young cabbage seedlings, starting in early April.
The first signs of flea beetle damage are when shot holes appear in the first leaves, which can be nibbled into lace by these little jumping beetles.
Spraying plants with insect repellants containing essential oils of mint, garlic or hot peppers can help to reduce the damage caused by the feeding on leaves by adult flea beetles
These essential oils will quickly degrade outside, so reapply them regularly.
Hoeing helps to control flea beetles.
Applying a dressing of blood, fish and bone meal, or any other organic manure helps to grow the seedlings away fast again after what can be a severe check.
In late May and June the female flea beetle fly away and lay their eggs.
These eggs produce larvae that eat the roots of plants at a time when this causes little harm.
The larvae pupate quickly and return to gardens in August and September, ready to eat the seed leaves on late-sown brassicas.
If autumn damage is seen treat again with the essential oils and give
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Flea Beetles - organic methods of controlling flea beetle pests and damage organically in the vegetable garden.