Flea beetles are tiny, black, and shiny, and will leave lacy patterns in plant leaves, from cabbages to tomatoes.
‘Jungle Judy’ Elliott, DUG’s Community Education Cultivator, gave us some tips for treating plants affected by flea beetles:
- Pull any badly affected plants out.
- Lightly scratch the soil surface, also known as cultivating the soil, around the plant to expose the pests to birds.
- Spray the tops and bottoms of affected leaves, and the soil around the plant, with soapy water every three days or so.
- You can also use organic insecticidal soap.
- Alternatively, you could spray with a hot pepper mixture. Combine half an onion, 2-3 cloves of garlic, and a hot pepper (seeds and all) in a blender with water. You can also add strong smelling herbs like oregano and sage if you have them on hand. Blend, let sit overnight, and then strain with cheese cloth or a coffee filter, then dilute with water by 50% before spraying plants.
- To strengthen plants, you can spray with kelp.
- For preventing infestations, companion plant your brassicas and tomatoes with strong smelling plants like garlic and onions.