Fighting earth fleas - remedies against the Rapserdfloh

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All flea species belong to the genus of fleas. The earth flea, however, is sorted in entomology (entomology) in the order of the beetle (Coleoptera). Blame on the "flea" in the name are the powerful hind legs of Erdflohs. These make him jump like a bug in case of disturbances. Especially monoculture, dry and unprocessed soil favor the population of this beetle species. Fleas of the earth pass with preference to cotyledons and tender stems. So it's time to be vigilant and initiate the right means to fight the rapeseed florh in time.
The Erdflohkäfer (Psylliodes) from the family of leaf beetles (Chrysomelidae) is tiny with just 2 to 3 millimeters. The Rapserdfloh is metallic blue-black to brown. An oval-shaped body sits on 3 pairs of legs, the hind legs are particularly pronounced. The dirty white larvae are almost twice as large and have a dark brown head. In the vegetable beds we mostly meet the big rapeseed dill (Psylliodes chrysocephalus).
Lifestyle, life cycle
The finished beetle slips out of the ground in summer. Older vegetables and weeds feed him then. But soon, when it gets really hot, the earthflight beetle looks for shady places at the edge of the forest or the field. Only at the beginning of September he gets back to the big (An) hit on the vegetable stocks. In the females one speaks of a maturation. Shortly thereafter, they lay their eggs in the ground, close to the richest food sources. The oviposition can last until next spring. Therefore, a mild climate in autumn and winter is extremely favorable for the stock. The larvae hatch from September to April. Immediately they drill into the outer petioles. As they grow, they continue into the stems. These damages can lead to a total crop failure. At the end of the spring, the larvae pupate in the soil. After one to two months, the young beetles hatch, eat their way through the oilseed rape or the vegetables and the game starts over. The adult beetles overwinter in hedges, forests or leaf litter.
Most food is needed from April to August. It usually starts in the spring with the first wild herbs before they get over the young vegetable seedlings. Very popular are plants of the family Brassica (Brassicaceae). They especially like the young leaves and stems of the plants. From time to time, the larvae also attack young roots in the spring. On the menu are preferably:
  • charlock
  • wild radish
  • Shepherd's Purse
  • Whitlow
  • nasturtium
  • cabbage
  • peppermint
  • rape
  • radish
  • beets
  • rocket
  • alyssum
As the days get warmer in the spring, you will first notice a flea infestation of tiny holes in the leaves. The rapeseed fleas then come out of their winter quarters and eat up to four millimeters small holes between the leaf veins. This is also called hole or window scuffing. If the young plants grow slowly, either by too much cold or dryness, they are particularly at risk. The fleas then eat so much leaf surface that the plantlets go down. The larvae feed themselves in the petioles forward to the main shoot. On the petioles you can see tiny entry and exit holes. Also excrement, especially in the heart of the plants, indicate an infestation of the larvae of earth fleas. Shoots damaged by this minerage can burst on frosty days. In the autumn damaged plants have a reduced winter resistance and are more susceptible to diseases. The plants are inhibited in their growth.
Tip: When gardening between the beds, the tiny pests can jump on humans. They do not cause any real bites on the skin, but can leave skin irritations. However, if there is no allergy, it is harmless.
As always, when it comes to diseases and pests, good prevention is the best way to combat it. There are a number of precautionary measures against rapeseed fleas, or against all kinds of earth fleas:
  • crop rotation
Especially when growing vegetables you should prefer a wide crop rotation. That is, wait at least three years until vegetables from the cruciferous or rapeseed family are sown again on the same bed. Even too close a neighborhood should be avoided at the next sowing.
  • mixed culture
Within the bed you can prevent a massive infestation by creating a mixed culture with the endangered plants and spinach, lettuce, onions or garlic.
  • weed
Keep the beds as free as possible of weeds from the cruciferous family.
  • seeds
To prefer healthy and well-growing seeds. The faster the plants become vigorous, the less the fleas can do them serious harm.
  • sowing
The better and faster the seed runs, the better the damage is prevented. So do not sow too densely and ensure that the seedlings can develop well.
  • mulching
A mulch layer inhibits not only the growth of weeds, but also the colonization by fleas and their oviposition.
  • maintenance
Earth fleas like to be undisturbed. They prefer dry soil. If you regularly loosen the soil, weed the soil and keep the soil moist, it makes the pests particularly uncomfortable.
In agriculture, the rapserdfloh is one of the largest pests. They are conventionally controlled with insecticides of the active ingredient class of pyrethroids. On the other hand, however, already the first resistances form. For private cultivation, only precautionary measures and natural or home remedies should be used.
  • The use of predators
The parasitic wasps, ground beetles, and predator beetles are the natural predators. They can be applied directly to the infested plants. The eggs of the parasitic wasp can be bought in specialized shops or ordered online. They like to lay their eggs in old logs. Who wants to force a colonization, can try to give them housing. Simply drill small holes in logs or branches and lay out. With a bit of luck, the insect hotel will be accepted.
  • Shaking plants
Already infected plants can be shaken or brushed against it with a broom. The fleas jump away immediately. The most effective method is to place boards or boards previously spread with glue around the plant.
  • Spray plants with home remedies
Well suited is an infusion or a slurry of wormwood, tansy, nettle, garlic or onions.
  • Insert lock plant
Sow as soon as possible, for example radish. The fleas of the earth go to the plant that develops the earliest. If many specimens have gathered there over time, they can be collected or sprayed in bundles.
  • fleece
While the seed is growing, it can protect a mulch layer or a fleece from earth fleas.
  • sticky traps
Effective and harmless is also the use of adhesive traps. Their use is most effective the sooner they are used. For this purpose, one attaches so-called yellow sheets on sticks and put them just above the ground, at the height of the seedlings. The boards should always be at the same height as the respective plants.
  • insecticides
As mentioned earlier, insecticides are only the last resort of choice, especially when it comes to vegetables. For insects, contact insecticides and products containing the ingredient Azadirachtin are mostly used. This substance inhibits the development of the larvae.
There are many ways to fight these little pests. The first appearance of food marks means that you have to act fast. In small gardens, regular watering and raking as well as the varied planting in the bed are the best mitigation. Also a mixed culture with vegetables from other families helps against excessive pest infestation. This enriches the menu and visually enhances the vegetable beds.

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