Flea beetles


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General

Ground fleas (Psylliodes) belong to the family of leaf beetles (Chrysomelidae) and grow to between 1.5 and 3 millimeters in size. The name of the animals is misleading: Although earth fleas can move flapping like a breeze thanks to their powerful legs, they are not fleas but beetles. The animals prefer soft, delicate plant tissue and therefore occur more frequently on the young leaves of various vegetables near the ground. In the vegetable garden, two different species occur: The potato earth flea (Psylliodes affinis) infests potatoes and other nightshade plants. The rape earth flea (Psylliodes chrysocephalus) specializes in cruciferous vegetables such as rocket, radish, radish and cabbage. He has a blue-black or dark green shiny Chitinpanzer. The tank of the potato leaf flea is dark brown with yellow longitudinal stripes.

way of life

With the warm and springlike temperatures, fleas become active. Then the females lay their eggs in small holes or on roots and leaves of various plants. After about ten days, the white larvae hatch, feeding on the roots of the plants for up to three weeks. The damage caused by the larvae, however, remains invisible and does not affect the plants appreciably. Subsequently, the larvae pupate in the soil in an earth cocoon. The new beetles hatch from June to August and now cause greater damage through their feeding activities. They eat on the leaf surface of young plants and scrape off the leaf tissue with their mouthparts. The result is the typical Fensterfraß: The upper and lower leaf skin remains, but the damaged tissue dries off, turns pale brown and tears open. Mostly mature, ingrown plants are not sustainably damaged, it is more of a visual problem. It becomes more critical when earth fleas attack young seedlings and seedlings in the greenhouse in early spring. The young plants are too weak to counteract infestation and die. Even leafy vegetables such as rocket no longer look very appetizing when it is infested with earth fleas.
Depending on the weather, one to two generations of leaf beetles are produced each year. The adult beetles hibernate in the soil, in hedges and under plant remains. Leaf and mulch layers as well as wood and stone heaps also serve as winter quarters.

Recognize flea on plants in time

Adult fleas are hard to spot due to their small size. However, they can easily identify the animals based on their damage pattern on the plants: Adult animals cause the greatest damage with their feeding on the leaves or stems of the host plants. Through their feeding activities, they leave numerous tiny round holes on the surface of the leaves, which indicate the activity of the leaf beetles. The holes are usually less than four millimeters. The biggest damage is caused by the overwintering earth fleas in April and May in dry and warm weather, when they occur in large numbers.

Affected plants

Particularly affected by earth fleas are especially cruciferous vegetables such as radishes, broccoli, arugula and kohlrabi. Eggplants, peppers, tomatoes and potatoes are also often attacked by the animals. Sowed cabbage plants in the cold frame or greenhouse can be completely destroyed by earth fleas. Flies can also be found on flowers and more rarely on ornamental shrubs and trees. Here the leaf beetles sift through the leaves. You do not need to fight earth fleas on older tubers and fruit vegetables, they usually only damage the leaves. In rarer cases the larvae in the soil also eat on the tubers, for example with radishes. In case of infestation of leafy vegetables and young plants, however, you should be active as early as possible.

Preventive measures against earth fleas

In order to prevent earth fleas, you should offer the animals no favorable living conditions. Since the leaf beetles occur more often in dry and warm weather, helps a regular watering of the endangered plants - the moist soil prevents infestation. In addition, apply a mulch layer of grass clippings around the cabbage to retain moisture in the soil.

Large oilseed ragweed (Psylliodes chrysocephalus)

Large oilseed ragweed (Psylliodes chrysocephalus)

Soil fleas feel particularly at rest well: regular hoeing disturbs the pupation of the larvae in the soil. Due to early soil loosening and weed control, the wintering leaf beetles will not find enough food to survive at the beginning of the year.
Basically, it helps to give the young plants a good start with an early sowing in favorable weather conditions, so that they quickly outgrow the critical infestation time. In addition to the already mentioned tillage an optimal supply of the plants with nutrients also belongs to the prevention. Make composting for a good plant development, because healthy, vigorous plants are less frequently attacked by pests and damaged by an infestation also not so bad.
In addition, you can cover young plants and sowing with a very close-meshed insect net or a thin fleece to protect them from the infestation of the pest.
The creation of a mixed culture is highly recommended: A large variety of plants in a small space is the best prevention against specialized pests such as the earth fleas. For example, spinach and lettuce have a repellent effect on earth fleas. Sow or plant both types of vegetables in rows between the endangered crops. In the greenhouse, it has also proven very useful to mulch the soil with spinach leaves.

Natural combat

Examine your germinating plants regularly in April and May - especially in dry and warm weather - for fleas to start controlling pests in time.
If you want to fend off the small animals in a natural way, helps a self-made plant seeps of tansy or vermouth. Onions and garlic also repel the earth fleas. Alternatively, dusting the plants with rock flour and algae lime helps.
Also, glue stains act against earth fleas. You can, for example, brush an old board with caterpillar glue and lay it out between the plant rows. The fleas jump on the board and stick to it. In addition, promote natural enemies of the earth fleas such as leaf- and beetle, hedgehogs and shrews by setting up suitable accommodations in the garden for these animals.

Video Board: Experimenting With Ways to Kill Flea Beetles and Blister Beetles on Eggplant. DIY Insect Control..

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