Eggplant Flea Beetle Eggplant Flea Beetle
Epitrix fuscula Crotch, Chrysomelidae, COLEOPTERA


DESCRIPTION

Adult - The oval, black, 2-mm-long beetle has thickened, jumping hind legs. Its antennae are to 2/3 the length of its body. This species resembles the potato flea beetle but has black legs and slightly hairy wing covers.

Egg - Generally elliptical in shape, the egg is 0.4 mm long, 0.2 mm wide, and pointed at one end. Though white at first, it gradually becomes yellowish-gray.

Larva - A typical flea beetle larva is white with a brown head and three pairs of brown legs near its head. This species is 4 to 5 mm long when fully grown.

Pupa - Shaped roughly like adults, pupae are found in the soil. They are white at first but gradually darken.


BIOLOGY

Distribution - Occurring throughout most of this country, eggplant flea beetles tend to be most common in southern states.

Host Plants - This flea beetle has a narrow host range. Reports of its occurrence have been limited to eggplant, potato, horsenettle, pokeweed, sugar beet, and strawberry.

Damage - Feeding on new growth as it appears in spring, flea beetles can be very destructive to young plants. They leave foliage riddles with holes, the edges of which turn brown giving plants a diseased appearance. Though older leaves often withstand this injury, younger leaves may be killed. Flea beetle larvae feed on roots and may cause damage to tuber crops such as beet and potato.

Life History - Eggplant flea beetles overwinter as adults in soil or crop debris. Their life cycle has not been studied in North Carolina, but in Indiana they emerge from hibernation in mid- to late March. Weedy hosts such as horsenettle and pokeweed are infested until crop hosts become available. Eggs laid in soil near the bases of plants hatch in about one week. Larvae emerge from the eggs and feed on roots or tubers for 2 to 3 weeks. After developing through three instars, larvae pupate in the soil. The pupal stage lasts 7 to 10 days. Beetles emerge from the pupal skins, make their way out of the soil, and feed on leaves for 2 months or more. As a rule, flea beetles complete one to four generations each year. In North Carolina, there are probably three or four annual generations.


CONTROL

Cultural practices such as destruction of crop residue, weed control and late planting help minimize flea beetle problems. The removal of crop residue reduces the number of favorable overwintering sites for flea beetles. Covering plant beds and destroying trash around them also is beneficial. Control of weeds such as horsenettle and pokeweed around garden sites eliminates important early beetle food sources. Delayed planting favors the development of host plants over the establishment of flea beetles.

A number of insecticides (granular and foliar) are available to control adult flea beetles. For recommended chemicals and rates of application, consult the current North Carolina Agricultural Chemicals Manual. .gif"> Eggplant Flea Beetle
Epitrix fuscula Crotch, Chrysomelidae, COLEOPTERA


DESCRIPTION

Adult - The oval, black, 2-mm-long beetle has thickened, jumping hind legs. Its antennae are to 2/3 the length of its body. This species resembles the potato flea beetle but has black legs and slightly hairy wing covers.

Egg - Generally elliptical in shape, the egg is 0.4 mm long, 0.2 mm wide, and pointed at one end. Though white at first, it gradually becomes yellowish-gray.

Larva - A typical flea beetle larva is white with a brown head and three pairs of brown legs near its head. This species is 4 to 5 mm long when fully grown.

Pupa - Shaped roughly like adults, pupae are found in the soil. They are white at first but gradually darken.


BIOLOGY

Distribution - Occurring throughout most of this country, eggplant flea beetles tend to be most common in southern states.

Host Plants - This flea beetle has a narrow host range. Reports of its occurrence have been limited to eggplant, potato, horsenettle, pokeweed, sugar beet, and strawberry.

Damage - Feeding on new growth as it appears in spring, flea beetles can be very destructive to young plants. They leave foliage riddles with holes, the edges of which turn brown giving plants a diseased appearance. Though older leaves often withstand this injury, younger leaves may be killed. Flea beetle larvae feed on roots and may cause damage to tuber crops such as beet and potato.

Life History - Eggplant flea beetles overwinter as adults in soil or crop debris. Their life cycle has not been studied in North Carolina, but in Indiana they emerge from hibernation in mid- to late March. Weedy hosts such as horsenettle and pokeweed are infested until crop hosts become available. Eggs laid in soil near the bases of plants hatch in about one week. Larvae emerge from the eggs and feed on roots or tubers for 2 to 3 weeks. After developing through three instars, larvae pupate in the soil. The pupal stage lasts 7 to 10 days. Beetles emerge from the pupal skins, make their way out of the soil, and feed on leaves for 2 months or more. As a rule, flea beetles complete one to four generations each year. In North Carolina, there are probably three or four annual generations.


CONTROL

Cultural practices such as destruction of crop residue, weed control and late planting help minimize flea beetle problems. The removal of crop residue reduces the number of favorable overwintering sites for flea beetles. Covering plant beds and destroying trash around them also is beneficial. Control of weeds such as horsenettle and pokeweed around garden sites eliminates important early beetle food sources. Delayed planting favors the development of host plants over the establishment of flea beetles.

A number of insecticides (granular and foliar) are available to control adult flea beetles. For recommended chemicals and rates of application, consult the current North Carolina Agricultural Chemicals Manual.

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