The Q&A Archives: Tiny Little Bugs Feeding Off Rose Petals

Question: While cleaning up fallen rose petals, I recently noticed tiny little black bugs (the size of fleas) on the ground under the petals. I thought they were ants but upon closer examination realized I was seeing BOTH ants and these smaller insects. Then I pinched off some dead marigolds and began to pull out the seeds only to find them in the damp seeds. I think they are also on the ground under my alyssum which borders my flower beds. They are VERY fast and may even hop (or actually crawl so fast they appear to hop). I have searched online but do not know the name of the insect. As a result, I cannot locate information on how to control them. Can you help?

Answer: Tiny black bugs that hop are probably flea beetles, a chronic spring problem in many gardens. The adults chew tiny holes in leaves and like to destroy seedlings. The flea beetle has one or two generations per year and adults spend the winter in garden debris or weeds. So, to control next spring's outbreak, be sure to clean up the garden at the end of the growing season.

You can try controlling the pests with traps (cover a white board with petroleum jelly or Tanglefoot - the beetles will fly onto the board and get stuck). Cultivate the soil frequently to expose eggs, use homemade garlic or pepper sprays to repel the pests, or sprinkle diatomaceous earth on the soil around your plants. Hope these suggestions help you get control of the pests!

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