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Home > Bugs > Bugs of Vegetables > Flea Beetles

Flea Beetles

Adult flea beetles are small leaf-feeding beetles with a segment of the hind legs enlarged for jumping. When disturbed these beetles actively jump. There are many species of flea beetles, some are general feeders, others attack only one plant or closely related kinds of plants. Flea beetles are common pests on many vegetable crops; in home gardens, they are common on crucifers, including radishes, broccoli, cabbage, and turnips, eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, spinach, and melons. They also feed on strawberries and chrysanthemums. Some species attack shrubs and trees.

Adult flea beetles 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. Larval stages feed on roots and tubers. Larvae of some species feed on or in foliage or tunnel into plant stems.

 
potato flea beetle and damage corn flea beetle flea beetle on broccoli
Typical flea beetle damage and beetles on potato leaf. Most adult flea beetles are very small ranging in size from 1/16 –1/8 inch long. They vary in color from black, bronze, bluish, or brown to metallic gray, while some species have stripes. All flea beetles have large back legs which they use for jumping, especially when disturbed.
     
     

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[Photos, left to right: Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Archive, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Bugwood.org; Russ Ottens, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org]

 
It is the policy of the State of Maine to minimize reliance on pesticides. The Maine Department of Agriculture and the Maine IPM Council encourage everyone to practice integrated pest management and to use pesticides only as a last resort. The mention of pesticides in the fact sheets linked to these pages does not imply an endorsement of any product. Be sure that any product used is currently registered and follow all label directions.