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Flea Beetle

USDA APHIS PPQ Archive, USDA APHIS PPQ, Bugwood.org
 Aphthona czwalinae (shown) black leafy spurge flea beetle. Flea beetles are one of the most difficult-to-manage pests of eggplant and cole crops. They are also a problem on seedlings of tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, turnips, radishes, and corn -and have been found to like Hydrangea. There are various species of flea beetles, all members of the Chrysomelidae family. The adults are active leaf-feeders that can, in large numbers, rapidly defoliate and kill plants. Symptoms of flea-beetle feeding are small, rounded, irregular holes; heavy feeding makes leaves look as if they had been peppered with fine shot. Some species also vector serious diseases such as potato blight and bacterial wilt of corn. Further damage may be done by the larvae, which feed on plant roots. Some flea beetles are considered general feeders, though many species attack only one plant or closely related kinds of plants.

Life history varies somewhat with species, but most appear to pass the winter in the adult stage, sheltering under plant debris in the field, field margins, and adjacent areas. The adults emerge in spring and may feed on weeds and less-desirable vegetation until crop plants become available. As a result, they are frequent pests in seedbeds and on new transplants. They may become especially troublesome when weedy areas begin to "dry up." Flea beetles cause the greatest damage by feeding on cotyledons, stems, and foliage.
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