Egg - The tiny elongate egg is white when first deposited.
Larva - The slender cylindrical grub has a whitish body, a brown head, and 3 pairs of tiny legs near its head. Potato and tobacco flea beetle larvae are 4 to 5 mm long when fully grown. The mature larva of the palestriped species is slightly longer than 6 mm.
Pupa - The white pupa roughly resembles the adult in size and shape. As it matures, it darkens gradually.
Host Plants - Potato and tobacco flea beetles infest solanaceous plants such as tomato, potato, tobacco, pepper, horsenettle, etc. The palestriped flea beetle, however, is a more general feeder. Its hosts include potato, corn, eggplant, tomato, pea, bean, watermelon, pumpkin, sweet potato, peanut, oat, cotton, grape, pear, and strawberry.
Damge - Flea beetles attack the foliage leaving small round holes. Most serious early in the growing season, this injury eventually kills infested leaves. In addition, potato flea beetles may transmit early blight. As a general rule, flea beetles are much less of a problem on potato than on other solanaceous crops.
Life History - Flea beetles overwinter as adults among debris in or near fields of host plants. They resume activity in spring and feed on weedy hosts until crop hosts are available. Eggs, deposited in soil near the bases of host plants, may require a week or more to hatch. Grubs feed on or in roots, tubers, and lower stems for 3 to 4 weeks before pupating. After a pupal period of 7 to 10 days, a new generation of beetles emerges. The palestriped flea beetle completes only one generation each year. Potato and tobacco flea beetles produce three to four annual generations in North Carolina.
A number of insecticides (granular and foliar) are available to control adult flea beetles. On potatoes, an in-furrow insecticide application at planting can prevent flea beetle damage early in the season. For control throughout the season on all vegetable crops, spray plants when adults appear and repeat as needed. For recommended insecticides and rates, consult the current North Carolina Agricultural Chemicals Manual.
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