The Q&A Archives: Controlling Flea Beatles

Question: I live in St. Louis, Missouri, and this is the first year I have tried planting in raised beds. This has been a complete success with ease of planting seeds in the top soil I used to fill the beds and the low maintenance required. (This is compared to the two previous years when I rototilled my 16 X 24 ft clay soil garden and toiled to keep it weed-free. I am very proud to say that I have kept my pesticide program completely organic and have had very little problems so far with one exception. I transplanted my eggplants and they were attacked from day one by these small black beetles (at least, that's what I think they are). They poke headpin-sized holes in the leaves and also reside where the little branches of the plant divide. I have tried insecticidal soap and BT powder with absolutely no success. A similar problem also happened to my Roquette. Do you have any organic solution? What about more chemical solutions?

Answer: Flea beetles are nasty little critters that do such annoying damage to eggplants as well as beans, cabbage, corn, melons, peppers, potatoes, spinach, tomatoes, and several other veggies. They especially love the soft leaves of eggplants. Products containing pyrethrum are the closest you'll get to organic control of flea beetle adults. But note that the larvae, little grubs in the soil, can do worse damage, feeding on the rootlets of just as many vegetables. They are easier to control, fortunately, by using biological controls such as our Nature Gard for Gardens (page 141 of our catalog).

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