jump directly to content.
Principles. Crops. Pests. Control methods Library. Links.
key visual: online information service for Non-chemical Pest Management in the Tropics

General Information

Flea beetle

Host plants

Most vegetable crops, flowers, and weeds




Flea beetle feeds on seedlings. They usually feed on the undersides of leaves leaving numerous small round or irregularly shaped holes, although not generally all the way through the leaf. Because the beetle is small and active, it usually does not feed much in one spot.

The larvae are root feeders. They trim the root hairs and make circular pits in tap roots. Its feeding damage is external on the root which can reduce the marketability of radish and turnips. The adults feed on the leaves and stems of emerging seedlings, on green pods, and heads. They chew small holes or pits, usually less than 3 mm in diameter, giving the leaves a characteristic 'shot hole' appearance.


  1. Cabbage flea beetle (Brassicae oleraceae) The eggs are tiny and yellow in color. These are laid in the soil, on leaves or on the stem of the plant. The eggs hatch in about 7 to 14 days. The larva is small, slender white worm that feeds primarily on roots and underground stems of the plant. It pupates in the soil near the base of the plants. The cabbage flea beetle is all black with no markings. It is small, hard, oval shape, with elongated and enlarged hind legs. The adult is about 2 mm long by 2.5 mm wide.
  2. Corn flea beetle (Chaetocnema pulicaria) The eggs are oval and yellow in color. These are laid singly or in a small group near the base of the corn plant. The larva is small, white, and not very active. It resembles a small rootworm that feeds on corn roots but causes no significant injury. The adult is a very small, smooth, shiny, somewhat round, black beetle. The hind legs are distinctly enlarged and thickened. The beetle is a leaf feeder. It chews long, narrow feeding scars on the primary leaves and first 3 or 4 true leaves. Heavy damage gives plants a grayish-white or silvery appearance. The beetle transmits pathogen that can cause bacterial wilt on corn.
  3. Crucifer flea beetle (Phyllotreta cruciferae) The eggs are oval and yellow in color. These are laid singly or in groups of three or four adjacent to the roots of the plant. The larva is a small (approximately 1 3 mm), whitish, slender, cylindrical worm. It has tiny legs with brown head. The pupa has the same size as the adult, white in color except for the black eyes and the free body appendages, which are visible later in the pupal development. The adult is a small, oval-shaped, blackish beetle with a bright blue sheen on the elytra, measuring about 2-3 mm in length.
  4. Eggplant flea beetle (Epitrix fuscula) The eggs are ovate, white when freshly laid and gradually become yellowish gray in color. The larva is white with a brown head and three pairs of brown legs near its head. The pupa is white, shaped roughly like adult and pupates in the soil. The adult is small, hard, elongated oval shaped, with enlarged black hind legs and slightly hairy wing covers. It is about 2 mm in size.
  5. Potato flea beetle (Epitrix cucumeris), Western Potato beetle (E. subcrinita), Tuber flea beetle (E. tuberis) The eggs are tiny and yellow colored. These are laid in the soil. The larva is dirty white with a brown head. The pupa is found in the soil near the base of the plants on which they have been feeding. Adult is slightly oblong, dark metallic brown, black or bronze in color (Berry, 1998: 221). The larva feeds on potato tubers causing pits and roughness. The pits appear as black spots on peeled potatoes. The adult flea beetle causes serious damage to seedlings usually feeding on the undersides of leaves leaving numerous small round or irregularly shaped holes generally not all the way through the leaf. It is a vector of potato diseases.
  6. Striped flea beetle (Phyllotreta striolata) Striped flea beetle is small, shiny black with crooked yellow stripe on each wing cover. It measures about 2.5 to 3 mm long. Adults are easily disturbed and jump quickly, often traveling considerable distances. The larva 'mines' on leaves and on roots.
  7. Pale striped flea beetle (Systena blanda) It has the same description of the striped flea beetle except for its paler stripe and causes the same damage. The only difference is that it has a wider range of hosts which include squash, beans, sunflowers, potato, lettuce, and many weeds.
  8. Tobacco flea beetle (Epitrix hirtipennis) It has the same description of the eggplant and potato leaf beetles except that the adults' wing covers have rows of fine but distinct punctures.

All flea beetles have enlarged hind legs. They all jump vigorously like fleas when disturbed, hence the name.
 to the top        PAN Germany, OISAT; Email oisat@pan-germany.org