How to Manage Pests
UC Pest Management Guidelines
Flea beetles are minor pests of potatoes in California. The adults are small, 0.06 to 0.1 inch (1.5 to 2.5 mm) in length, metallic greenish brown to black in color, and tend to jump like fleas when disturbed. The larvae live in the soil, are slender, whitish, and about 0.25 inch (6 mm) long when mature.
Adult flea beetles overwinter in weeds or debris outside the field. In spring they feed on weeds until potato plants emerge, then fly into potato fields and feed on foliage.
The beetles feed on leaves and stems resulting in many small holes in the leaves. This damage is seldom extensive enough to be of concern but may indicate future damage to the tubers. Watch for foliage damage when monitoring fields for this and other foliage-feeding pests, and keep records of your results (example form. Most damage is caused by the larvae, which hatch from eggs scattered by adult females in the soil around potato plants. The larvae feed on roots, underground stems, and tubers. Larval feeding on tubers gives them a pimpled surface with small brown tunnels extending 0.06 to 0.25 inch (1.5 to 6 mm) into the tuber. When damage is extensive, the potatoes are unsuitable for processing.
Systemic insecticides and foliar sprays applied for green peach aphid usually keep flea beetles below economically damaging levels. Even in areas where these treatments are not used, flea beetle infestations are sporadic and special controls are rarely necessary. Flea beetle damage often is not noticed until harvest, when it is too late for control measures.
UC IPM Pest Management Guidelines: Potato
PDF: To display a PDF document, you may need to use a PDF reader.