Many different species of flea beetles attack garden plants in the United States. Some types are selective and only go after certain plant families, but others feed on all types of vegetables, fruits and ornamentals. Seedlings, young transplants and tender new growth are favorite targets of these voracious pests. Flea beetles can also spread plant diseases, including blight and bacterial wilt. They prefer feeding in bright, sunny locations.
Flea Beetle Identification
Depending on the species, adult flea beetles measure between 1/16 and 1/4 inch long. Many flea beetles common to vegetable gardens are dark and shiny. However, these pests come in black, metallic green or blue, brown, bronze or even striped. All have powerful hind legs and jump — like fleas — when disturbed. Their thin, white, wormlike larvae grow 1/8 to 1/3 inch long.
Signs or Damage of Flea Beetles
Flea beetle larvae hatch from eggs laid at the soil surface, then they feed on plant roots. Their main damage is to root crops or tubers such as potatoes. Adult beetles chew multiple small holes throughout plant leaves, resulting in distinctive shot-hole damage.
How to Control Flea Beetles
Effective flea beetle treatment starts early in the season, as soon as garden seedlings break ground. GardenTech brand offers several highly effective options to kill flea beetles and protect your crop:
- Sevin Insect Killer Ready to Use2 simplifies targeted spot treatments of individual plants or small garden areas. The adjustable nozzle lets you control the width of your spray for broad coverage or narrow precision. Just shake the container and you're ready to kill flea beetles on contact.
- Sevin Insect Killer Concentrate and Sevin Insect Killer Ready to Spray make treating larger areas easy and economical. These liquid concentrates kill flea beetles by contact, then they keep protecting against flea beetles for up to three months.
- Sevin Insect Killer Dust Ready to Use starts killing flea beetles immediately upon contact. Just sprinkle a thin, uniform layer of dust on the upper and lower leaf surfaces, stems and flowers of affected plants, including strawberries and tomatoes.
Flea Beetle Control Tip: Flea beetles overwinter under leaves, weeds and garden debris. Clean your gardens well at the end of the season and you'll have fewer flea beetle problems the next year.
Always read product labels thoroughly and follow instructions, including guidelines for listed plants and pests, application frequencies and pre-harvest intervals (PHI) for edible crops.
GardenTech is a registered trademark of Gulfstream Home and Garden, Inc.
Sevin is a registered trademark of Tessenderlo Kerley, Inc.
- "Flea Beetle" by Katja Schulz licensed under CC BY 2.0
- "Green Flea Beetle" by Katja Schulz licensed under CC BY 2.0
- "Metallic blue flea beetles (Altica sp.)" by Bob Peterson licensed under CC BY 2.0
- "Eggplant: Flea beetle feeding injury to leaf" by Scot Nelson licensed under CC BY 2.0