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How to Kill and Prevent Flea Beetles in Your Garden

By Tiffany Selvey

Newly planted seedlings offer so much promise. You transition them from the safety of indoor grow lights or a greenhouse to the great, unprotected outdoors. Then you check them morning, noon and night to make sure they are safe and healthy. Everything looks great, until one day you notice a number of tiny holes on plant leaves. A closer inspection reveals small, shiny flea beetles causing this damage.

Even when these beetles don't kill your seedlings, they can help spread diseases, such as bacterial wilt and blight, from plant to plant — and destroy common garden crops, including eggplant, tomatoes, cabbage and other vegetables.1 So when these pests arrive, take immediate action to control them.

Identify Flea Beetles in the Garden

Named for their jumping ability, flea beetles emerge from the soil in large numbers when the temperatures near 50 degrees Fahrenheit.2 These ravenous pests range in length from 1/16 inch to 1/4 inch and are black, bronze, blue or brown, depending on the species.3 Some types of flea beetles also have stripes. All species have powerful back legs that allow them to jump like fleas when disrupted.

Control Flea Beetles

At the first sign of flea beetles on your plants, turn to a trusted pesticide such as Sevin® brand garden insecticides for help. Tough on beetles, but easy on gardens, Sevin® Insect Killer Ready to Use kills flea beetles by contact and helps prevent damage to tender seedlings at the first sign of trouble.

Always match your garden edibles to the product label and follow guidelines for intervals between treatment and harvest. For example, treat tomatoes and lettuces with Sevin® Insect Killer Ready to Use right up to one day before you pick them. For sweet corn, allow three days between application and enjoying your ears. For larger areas, Sevin® Insect Killer Concentrate and Sevin® Insect Killer Ready to Spray provide the same highly effective control for these pests and hundreds more.

Prevent Future Infestation

As soon as flea beetles arrive in the garden, damage starts. These preventative measures can help avert an attack and lessen your risk:

  • Manage the garden environment with good sanitation. Clear leaves and crop debris at the end of the gardening season, so that adult flea beetles have no protection from the cold.
  • Till garden soil just after the first frost to uncover any beetles that have gone underground for the winter and leave them exposed.
  • Plant an early season "trap crop," such as radish or mustard seeds, to attract flea beetles when they first emerge from the soil. Then, spray with liquid Sevin® Insect Killer insecticides and follow label guidelines for how often to treat. With bell peppers or tender greens, you can spray as often as once per week.
  • Wait until seedlings have more than three leaves before transplanting into the garden.2 Larger plants can survive more flea beetle damage than smaller seedlings.

The sudden arrival of flea beetles can stress plants and gardeners, but taking steps to control these pests with a hand from the GardenTech® family of brands helps guarantee a good start to the growing season and gardening enjoyment.

Time it takes to control flea beetles:

For the average garden, 15 minutes per treatment until beetles are gone.

How hard you'll work on a scale of 1 to 4:

2 – Easy Does It

Duration of Treatment:

This varies greatly, depending how severe the infestation is and the number of flea beetle generations involved. Used properly, liquid Sevin® Insect Killer pesticides kill flea beetles by contact and keep helping to protect your garden for up to three months.

 

Always read product labels thoroughly and follow instructions, including guidelines for pre-harvest intervals (PHI) and application frequency.

Sevin is a registered trademark of Tessenderlo Kerley, Inc.

GardenTech is a registered trademark of Gulfstream Home and Garden, Inc.

 

Sources:

1. G.R. Nielsen, "Flea Beetles," University of Vermont Extension, January 1997.

2. V. Grubinger, "Flea Beetles Management," The University of Vermont, November 2003.

3. S. Burkness and J. Hahn, "Flea Beetles in Home Gardens," University of Minnesota Extension, 2007.

Pest ID & Prevention

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