Flea Beetle – Identification and Control

Flea Beetle on a leaf – Identify and Control
Flea Beetle – Identify and Control



  • Adult flea beetles are tiny, 1/16 – 1/8 inch (1.5 – 3.2 mm) long.
  • They are usually shiny black beetles, but some species can have different colors, and some can even be stripped.
  • Flea beetles are very quick. They jump off the plant or drop to the ground when disturbed.


  • Flea beetle larvae are 1/8 – 1/3 inches (3 – 8 mm) long.
  • They are cream or white in color.
  • Flea beetle larvae have thin and soft worm-like bodies.


Adult flea beetles hide in garden debris, wooden areas, and hedgerows throughout the winter. In early spring, these adults become active and start laying eggs. Female flea beetles lay eggs in clusters under a small layer of soil beside the host plants. Small cream or white larvae begin to feed on plant roots or stems when the eggs hatch. After that, larvae change into pupae, and they will remain in the soil until it becomes an adult. There can be one or two generations of flea beetles per year.

Damage They Cause

Adult flea beetles feed on leaves, making small, irregular holes. They will also chew on flowers and plant stems. Flea beetles prefer younger plants, so the most damage is done in the early to mid-growing season. If the garden has a flea beetle infestation, the plants can be severely injured.

Larvae of flea beetle do minor damage to vegetable roots (except for potato flea beetle larvae).

Plants They Attack

Many major crops are attacked by flea beetles, including:

  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Canola
  • Crucifers
  • Eggplant
  • Mustard
  • Potatoes
  • Pepper
  • Poppy flower
  • Radish
  • Rapeseed
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes

Live Biological Control

Attract beneficial insects and other creatures to control flea beetles:

Organic Control

  • Citrus Oil
  • Garlic Oil
  • Neem Oil
  • Pyrethrin
  • Spinosad

Preventive Actions

  • Clear your garden debris and weeds at the end of the growing season. This will prevent flea beetles from overwintering in your garden.
  • Expose the eggs. As the flea beetle eggs are close to the soil surface, slight cultivation around the host plant will expose the eggs to predators.
  • Cover susceptible plants with lightweight floating row cover to block the access. Ensure to remove the cover when your plants begin to flower.
  • Trap. Plant radish or mustard as a trap crop to lure flea beetles away from the main crop.
  • Repel. Plant catnip, thyme, basil, or marigolds around the garden to repel flea beetles.

More About Flea Beetles

Although most flea beetle species are pests, some species are actually beneficial and will feed on weeds. Some species have been introduced to various locations across the world as a biological control against some invasive weeds in an attempt to limit the spread. [1]

What to Do Next

Check out our other Garden Pests Guides. Read and learn more about how to identify and control garden pests.

Check out our Beneficial Insects Guides. Read and learn about their benefit and how to attract them.

Also, check out our Gardening Guides to learn easy step-by-step tutorials on how to grow plants.

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