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.
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/Damage: Flea beetle larvae hatch from eggs laid at the soil surface and 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.
Control: Effective flea beetle treatment starts early in the season, as soon as seedlings break ground. GardenTech® brand offers several highly effective options to kill flea beetles by contact and keep protecting for up to three months+. These products can be used on many flea beetle favorites, including tomatoes, eggplants, cabbages and potatoes, right up to one day before harvest*:
- Sevin® Insect Killer Ready to Use 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.
- Sevin® Insect Killer Concentrate makes treating larger areas easy and economical way. Use with a pump-style sprayer, and cover all plant surfaces thoroughly.
- Sevin® Insect Killer Ready to Spray attaches to a common garden hose. This easy-to-use product measures and mixes automatically as you spray. Start at the farthest garden corner and work your way backward so your hose stays dry. Spray to cover all plant surfaces thoroughly.
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 and follow the instructions carefully, including required pre-harvest intervals for edible crops.
+These products provide up to 3 month control on all listed insects except ticks.
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