Imagine waking up one morning and walking out into your vegetable garden, only to see that some apocalyptic force has wiped it away. It's a sight many people have to deal with, and the culprit in many cases is the flea beetle. These hopping beetles love vegetables (certain varieties more than others) and they can spread and devour a whole crop overnight. There are methods of crop control and planting that can help stop these pests from spreading, and also a few natural chemicals that can be used in emergencies.
Make sure that your crops get the water and nutrients they need. Strong crops will stand up to flea beetle infestations better than those that have been weakened and malnourished.
Use a process called "polycultural planting." Flea beetles are largely attracted to tomatoes, lettuce, cabbage, potatoes, kale and other similar vegetables. This type of planting revolves around planting crops that are not flea beetle food throughout the crops of plants that are. By sectioning off your crops this way, flea beetles are much less likely to spread because they will avoid moving onto the crops they do not eat.
Plant additional crops that attract flea beetles most. They will be more likely to feed of these rather than your main crop. A good crop to plant would be mustard seeds.
Use additives if changing your planting techniques does not work. Diatomaceous earth is one of them. This is soil that has small algae mixed in it. This algae has sharp edges and are lethal to bugs who come in contact with it. However, they are non-toxic to larger animals and mammals. Spread some on your crops and they could help stop flea beetles from ruining them.
Go to your local home and garden store and pick up some botanical chemicals. These are treated specially for plants and are made to be the non-toxic. Many of these chemicals are all-natural pesticides. The organic ones are best and can be found a specialised retailers.
Introduce parasitic nematodes into your garden when the flea beetle population has become established in your crops. These live creatures attack and eat beetle larvae, preventing any more from hatching and disrupting the life cycle of the bugs.
Learn about the different species of flea beetle in order to know what type is attacking your crops (see Resources below).
Be careful when adding chemicals. Certain stronger varieties may cause food to bear some toxins.
Tips and warnings
- Learn about the different species of flea beetle in order to know what type is attacking your crops (see Resources below).
- Be careful when adding chemicals. Certain stronger varieties may cause food to bear some toxins.