The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Bad Bug Profile: Flea Beetles

Flea beetleFlea beetles are a fact of life here on the farm.  If you see tiny holes speckling your vegetable leaves and little black bugs jumping off the plants, you're infested.

As with aphids, I tend to take a live and let live approach to flea beetles.  Unless my plants are stressed, flea beetles don't tend to build up to very serious levels.  If I'm feeling aggressive, I'll sprinkle wood ashes on the leaves, which is supposed to cut down on flea beetles.  I'm not sure I've ever seen a real reduction after treatment, but on the other hand I've never had a really bad infestation of flea beetles.

Species: Potato Flea Beetle (Epitrix cucumeris)

Plants Affected:
potatoes and tomatoes

Related Species:
Several other flea beetle species feed on nightshade family plants and cabbage family plants (along with some less common species which hit several other types of plants.)  The species which feeds on eggplant is serious bad news!

Natural Enemies:
Lacewing larvae, Big-eyed Bugs, Two-lined Collops, Western Damsel Bug, and Northern Field Cricket, but most predators aren't present in early spring when flea beetles are a problem.

Organic Control:
sprinkling wood ashes; no till soil management; floating row covers over eggplants

Learn to keep bugs at bayRead other posts about Organic Insect Control:

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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