Beetles are capable of causing much damage to your garden. They are, perhaps, every gardener's worst nightmare. If uncontrolled, they can easily destroy your plants and nullify months of toil and precious time invested in the garden, leaving you frustrated and disappointed. While there are various types of beetles, flea beetles are by far the most common, especially in vegetable gardens. These tiny black and shiny insects typically attack leaves, forming small holes which often join to form larger holes. They have a remarkable jumping ability when disturbed. If the beetle population is large, they can easily consume all the foliage from your crops with remarkable speed. The insect larvae also attack plant roots and feeds on them, causing plants to collapse. Following are some helpful strategies you can employ in containing the spread of these insect pests.
Practice companion planting. Flea beetles are attracted to certain crops such as cabbage, lettuce, kale, spinach and tomatoes. To protect these crops and keep the beetles from spreading to them, make sure you also plant specific crops that flea beetles do not eat and prefer to avoid. You can successfully manage the spread of flea beetles through careful selection of crops.
Maintain Healthy Crops
A healthy crop is a sure defence to any disease. Strive to cultivate strong and healthy crops as when beetles attack, a healthy crop is less likely to suffer damage as compared to weak and malnourished crops.
Rotating Crop Beds
Annual rotation of crop beds is helpful in destroying larvae and containing the spread of the insects.
Use of Row Covers
Use row covers on soil that you have recently planted to prevent mature beetles from laying eggs. This will contain the reproduction of beetles. However, ensure that you leave the plants adequate room so that they can grow comfortably. You can use wooden stakes or rocks to secure the edges and middle part of the covers. Inspect underneath the covers every couple of days to make sure that no beetles have sneaked in. Once the plants are established you can remove the covers.
These provide an effective natural control in containing spreading flea beetles. They are non-toxic and can be safely used without any worries to plant and animal health. Spraying a natural insecticide onto your plants can help in providing considerable protection from flea beetle attacks.
Although nematodes are generally a nuisance in gardens, there are those that can prove beneficial particularly in a flea beetle garden. Introduce them into your garden once the population of flea beetles is fairly large. The nematodes will feed on the beetle larvae and keep them from hatching. This disrupted life cycle of the bugs will be helpful in containing the spread of the beetles.
This is soil that is mixed with small sharp-edged algae that are dangerous to beetles. The algae is non-toxic to animals and humans. Spreading diatomaceous earth on your crops will help in containing the spread of beetles.