University of Illinois Extension
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Flea Beetles

 

Frequency

4 (1 = rare 5 = annual) 

Severity

3 (1 = very little damage 5 = plants killed) 

Hosts

Eggplant, bean, radish, pepper, potato, tomato, spinach, and sweet corn.    

Symptoms

There are many species of flea beetles. Those most common on vegetables are black, 1/16- to 1/8-inch long adult beetles that may have light-colored stripes. They jump and fly when disturbed. The spinach flea beetle is almost 1/4 inch long, with a reddish neck. Although the larvae of most flea beetles live on roots, the spinach flea beetle larva lives on the leaves, is gray, and grows to be 1/4 inch long.

The adults eat tiny, pin-sized holes in leaves of eggplant, radish, bean, potato, tomato, and pepper. Pits may be eaten into the leaves; these pits later turn brown. Spinach flea beetle adults and larvae eat larger holes in spinach. Root-feeding larvae are rarely a problem. On sweet corn, corn flea beetle transmits Stewart's wilt.  

Management

On cole crops, seedlings and transplants are the most critical stages for flea beetle control. Plant sweet corn varieties that are resistant to Stewart's wilt. For greens, treatment may be needed to avoid noticeable damage.