Garden Pests Series: F…

Thoughts and musings

Garden Pests Series: F…

Lewis | April 2, 2015 | 0 Comments

…is for Flea Beetles.

In our latest series of blog posts, we have been going through the alphabet, listing 26 garden pests, diseases and species that can affect your garden. Basically, anything that can negate your gardening efforts have been included in this self-compiled list. A number of them are well-known. Some of them you wouldn’t think could be potential threats. A couple may seem outlandish – but come on, you try and find one beginning with the letters ‘J’ and ‘X’! But we managed it, as we think you’ll enjoy it. So without further ado, let’s crack on…

So as I said, the letter ‘F’ stands for flea beetle, the focus of this blog post. They are a fairly common occurrence in UK gardens, especially during May and June, when they lay their eggs, which hatch a few days later. A flea beetle, given its name due to its appearance and the fact that it can jump, affect many vegetables from the Brassica plant family, such as Brussel sprouts, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower. They can also attack a small number of ornamental plants.

The biggest sign that you may have a flea beetle infestation is that foliage will appear ‘peppered’ with small holes. Not only this, plant growth may be reduced, and the tissue around the affected areas will be dry and you may see some discolouration.The different stages of a flea beetle’s life cycle alters their appearance, somewhat:

  • Adults are black and 3mm long, with possible light-coloured stripes on their wings;
  • Larvae are small, white grubs with brown heads; and,
  • Eggs, which are laid around plant roots, are yellow and elliptical.

They are prominent during the Summer, although adults emerge from the ground during Spring to mate. The danger of them damaging your plants isn’t just with the adults, though, as larvae will begin feeding immediately after hatching on plant roots. This is an notable annoyance to those who have vegetable gardens, as they can ruin a crop. However, there are a number of treatments widely available.

There are chemicals that are effective against flea beetles – don’t forget to take precautions and read the manufacturer’s instructions if you choose a chemical method – but there are also organic means that are also effective. Not only can you encourage insectivorous birds to your garden, you can also use yellow sticky traps to trap the flea beetles in their adult form. Prevention methods include:

  • Keep plants watered as flea beetles prefer dry conditions;
  • Remove all plant debris from the base of the plants; and,
  • Give a thought to “trap planting”, which involves planting a sacrificial plants between primary hosts.

So there you have it! We hope you enjoyed this article. Give the rest of them a read over the Bank Holiday weekend!