The Q&A Archives: Beetles on grape buds

Question: As my grape buds were swelling this spring, little metallic black beetles devoured the buds completely. How do I control this insect? Gertrude Stawski Columbia, MO

Answer: Grape flea beetles ( Altica chalybea ) ate your grape buds. The 1/8-inch-long adult beetles live on ground-level plant debris during the winter and emerge just as grape buds begin to open in spring. That's typically early to mid-April in your area. Flea beetles usually don't cause significant damage, and you don't have to spray. If there are enough of them feeding on small buds, however, you'll have to take action. If you see flea beetles on most of the buds, spray with rotenone or Imidan. One application is usually enough to control this pest. Keep in mind that grape flea beetles pose a problem for a few weeks in early spring. Once the grape shoots are 1/2 inch long, the beetles no longer pose a serious threat to the plants.

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