About Flea Beetles:
Flea Beetles are tiny, jumpy little bugs that nibble a lot of tiny holes in leaves. The small flea beetle has long back legs and hops away like a flea when disturbed. Young brassicas and mustard leaves (some of the most susceptible are listed below) are amongst its favourite foods and flea beetles will eat several tiny holes like those pictured.
- Wild Rocket
- Pak Choi & Tatsoi
- Swede & Turnip
- Cabbages & Sprouts
- Giant Red Mustard
Adult Flea Beetles overwinter in the garden, and in spring and summer they are on the lookout for food. They are particularly active during warm, dry weather, and can cause quite a lot of damage. The main problem is that they make the leaves of plants look a little unsightly, so don’t be too disheartened if your veg patch has suffered, you can still eat your crops!
How to Manage Flea Beetles
To keep flea beetles at bay, follow these steps:
- Cover susceptible plants (see list above) with an insect proof mesh
- Add a mulch. The mulch does two things to keep moisture in the soil (flea beetles thrive in hot dry weather)
- Keep plants well watered so that the soil doesn’t dry out
- You can also try companion planting – pop some nasturtiums near vulnerable crops and with luck the flea beetles will munch away on the nasturtiums instead.