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Flea Beetle

Flea Beetle

Genus Psylliodes


In a Nutshell

    Small shot-like holes (1-2 mm) and chewing damage on leavesInsects are darkly colored, sometimes with a shiny or metallic aspectLarvae live in the soil and feed on roots whereas adults feed on young plantsTubers are bored with narrow, straight tunnels of varying depths

Hosts: %1$s

· Bean · Capsicum & Chili · Eggplant · Turnip · Pea · Cucumber · Pumpkin · Zucchini · Tomato · Cabbage · Lettuce · Potato · Additional · Onion · Maize · Okra ·


Adults feed on leaves. The damage appears as small scattered shot-like holes (1-2 mm), and small chewing cavities that do not cut across the leaf blade (pitting). A slight yellowing may occur around the damaged tissue. Tubers are bored with narrow, straight tunnels of varying depths depending on the species in question. Small raised bumps also may appear on the tuber surface as part of the damage.


There are many species of flea beetles affecting a variety of plants. Most adults are small (about 4mm), dark-colored, sometimes with a shiny or metallic aspect. They have an oval body and large hind legs for jumping. The larvae live in the soil and feed on roots or tubers whereas adults feed on young plants. Most flea beetles hibernate under plant residues, in the soil or on weeds around fields. They become active again during the spring. Depending on species and climate, 1 to 4 generations grow per year. Flea Beetles prefer warm, dry conditions.

Biological Control

The larvae of lacewing (Chrysopa spp.), adult damsel bugs (Nabis spp.) and some parasitoid wasps feed on or kill adult flea beetles. Some nematodes also kill the larvae that live in the soil. Fungal pathogens, insecticidal soaps or the bacterial insecticide Spinosad can be used to reduce populations.

Chemical Control

Always consider an integrated approach with preventive measures together with biological treatments if available. Insecticides should be applied during the beetle's susceptible period, that is when they appear on the leaves. Products based on acetamiprid, carbaryl, malathion and permethrin work well to control populations.

Preventive Measures

    Mulches interfere with the egg-laying and the larval stagesMonitor your plants, especially in springAdjust planting times (earlier or later) to avoid periods of peak adult activitySupply the plants with essential nutrients and waterPlant trap crops that are attractive to the flea beetlePlant non-hosts plants that repel or block insect pestsRid your field of weeds or other host plantsRemove refuge sites by plowing and destroying crop residues