Tag Archives: flea beetle

Time for a break?

I came across an interesting post the other day from little house on the urban prairie. It had a lot of the pests I’ve encountered over the years and a new one: the Japanese beetle. The photo caught my eye because I’d come across it the other day when I pulled up my collard greens that had signs of cabbage worm damage. It came up from underground when I pulled up the plant and disappeared by the time I’d come back from tossing it in the garbage. I wasn’t sure what it was. Now I know.

This article from The Old Farmers Almanac talks about how they emerge from the soil in June and start attacking plants. They attack over 300 types of plants! It says to look for signs of leaves where only the veins remain (skeletonized) as a telltale sign of Japanese beetles. Can’t say I’ve seen evidence of that type of damage.

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Signs of flea beetle damage on my radishes. Apparently radishes and nasturtium can be used as trap crops for the beetle so they don’t attack more precious veggies

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Signs of cabbage worm damage on my collards.

The article on beneficial insects referenced in the one about Japanese beetles reinforced what I often think about and aimed to do this year — plant flowers early to attract beneficial predators to keep the pests at bay. I think my problem is that I try to do most things from seed so they don’t flower early enough.

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Calendula came up early from overwintering seeds. They didn’t start flowering until June.

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Calendula starting to bloom. Cornflower buds at the front have yet to open

It crossed my mind already this season that next season I should take a break from veggies and just plant flowers and herbs in hopes that any pests overwintering in the soil would go somewhere else. It’s frustrating, feeling like you’re doing all the right things and still having pests invade. I guess I still have some work to do.

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A new pest for 2015

And this seems to be the worst one I’ve come across so far: the bloody flea beetle!

Flea beetle damage on radishes

Flea beetle damage on radish leaves

They are decimating my collards in the community garden and other seedlings in Hamilton. They may not be new to the garden (I may have attributed the damage to another pest in the past), but they are certainly making themselves known this year.

Flea beetle damage on eggplant

Flea beetle damage on eggplant

Flea beetle damage on tomatoes. New tomato leaves seem to be OK for now

Flea beetle damage on tomatoes. New leaves seem to be OK for now

They are a real pain. I can’t get close enough to squish them, they just hop away. They are definitely the most mobile pest I’ve encountered.  You Grow Girl says that they don’t enjoy moist environments or shade, so maybe once things start growing and shading other plants it will get better. Diatomaceous earth, row covers, and sticky traps are useful sources of organic control. Radish is supposed to be a trap crop, so I guess I should feel happy that its doing its job.

I read this interesting article that stated tomatoes planted near collards will deter the flea beetle. This is interesting because I thought that brassicas and tomatoes weren’t companions. Maybe some cabbage family members are more of a problem for tomatoes than others (and vice versa). Anyway, it’s good news as I think I’ve planted a tomato near my collards because my brother wanted two tomatoes in the community garden instead of the one I had planned for.

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