Watch out for flea beetle

These tiny bugs are already active, and with the dry weather will become more so over the next few days. You’ll recognise damage by the tiny holes in leaves, particularly in mizuna, wild rocket and other flavoursome salad leaves!

What is the flea beetle?

The flea beetle is a tiny little bug that nibbles tiny holes in leaves. It has long back legs and hops away like a flea when disturbed. Young brassicas and mustard leaves (listed below) are amongst its favourite foods and they will eat several tiny holes like those pictured.

Popular flea beetle plants:

  • Wild Rocket
  • Mizuna
  • Pak Choi
  • Swede
  • Turnip
  • Cabbages
  • Broccoli

When are they active:

Adult Flea Beetles overwinter in the garden, and are active in spring and summer, particularly during warm, dry weather.

Can I still eat my veggies?

Don’t be too disheartened if your veggies have suffered, you can still eat your crops if they have holes in!

How do I keep them at bay?

  1. Cover vulnerable plants with an insect proof mesh
  2. Add a mulch. The mulch does two things – firstly it keeps moisture in the soil (flea beetles thrive in hot dry weather) and secondly it should stop the larvae that hatch at the base of plants from becoming adults.
  3. Keep the young seedlings well watered so that the soil doesn’t dry out (they prefer dry, warm soil).
  4. You can also try companion planting – pop some nasturtiums near vulnerable crops and with luck the flea beetles will munch away on the nasturtiums instead.