There are several species of flea beetles that are found throughout the United States.
Flea beetles are tiny jumping bugs that are similar in looks to fleas and are commonly found in gardens during the springtime.
The beetle will damage plants by chewing several small holes in the leaves, often killing it when infestations of the pest are high. They enjoy feeding in the summer months and will consume cabbage, corn, eggplant, lettuce, peppers, and tomato plants.
Adult flea beetles are tiny and only grow to around 1/10 inches long. They are dark shiny brown or black with large hind legs that give them the ability to jump when they sense danger.
Their larvae are small worms that are creamy-white and are ⅛ to ⅓ inches long. These small pests can be found living under the soil, feeding on the roots and tubers of immature plants and germinating seeds.
The adults will also feed on the new growth of host plants, causing bacterial diseases as they do.
Females of the flea beetle lay their eggs on or in soil cracks along the base of garden plants. The eggs hatch in one week, and the larvae begin feeding on the roots of the plant.
In 2-3 weeks, the larvae pupae down in the soil for another week until an adult flea beetle emerges and begins the life cycle for future generations.
Because the flea beetle can transmit diseases to valuable plants, removing garden debris and weeds can help reduce an infestation.
Another natural solution is to place floating row covers over seedlings until they are mature enough in growth.
Applying beneficial nematodes in the soil during the larvae stage can help prevent new generations of adult flea beetles from emerging.