Flea beetle (Phyllotreta spp.)
These small, shiny beetles, which quickly abandon ship if disturbed (they jump with strong hind-legs like fleas...hence the name), can be a serious pest of seedlings, in particular, although they can still check the growth of larger plants. The adults eat the surface of leaves while the larvae eat the roots, although the latter causes little damage.
- Small, round(ish) holes appear in the middle and at the edges of leaves. They may not go all the way through the leaf and are generally smaller than those caused by slugs
Prevention & control
- Physical protection with insect mesh will prevent adults getting to plants
- Ensure that plants grow quickly through vulnerable seedling stage or plant out when larger and more able to cope with damage
- They like warm, dry conditions so water well in dry spells.
- Serious infestations will respond to debris root powder - just be aware of the potential impact on beneficial creatures such as ladybirds and worms.