I was tying up my newly transplanted tomatoes when I noticed some flea beetle damage on the leaves. We had flea beetles last year but they didn’t attack until later in the season. What do flea beetles do to the plants and how do we fix the issue?
You can see the damage a flea beetle can do in the picture above. The black spot is a flea beetle. They eat the plant between the veins making it look like lace. They will also lay their eggs on the leaves.
When plants are small it’s easy to look at every plant and squish the beetles between your fingers. As the plants get bigger we try spraying plants with a water hose to knock them off and then crush them as they land on the fabric. We’ve also found that trimming off any leaves that almost touch the ground really helps. If the access to the leaves is more difficult, the less likely they will take hold. You have to stay on top of it though. It’s really hard to get it back under control if you don’t look through the plants every couple days. Since we will never use pesticide there is a big commitment to prevent a full on invasion. May and June is mating season so now is the best time to focus on it.
Look at flea beetles mating on the tomatoes on the farm’s YouTube channel: