|source image: gardenplotter.com|
The potato flea beetle is a small, black beetle with yellow legs. Potato flea beetle is about 1/16 of an inch long and jumps from the plant at the slightest disturbance. The adult beetle overwinters in the soil and emerges in the spring. The eggs of potato flea beetle are laid in the soil near the surface, and potato flea beetle hatch in about 10 or 11 days. The larvae of potato flea beetle are fine, white worms about 1/5 inch long. Larvae of potato flea beetle feed on the underground parts and cause damage by burrowing small tunnels into the flesh of the tuber immediately beneath the skin. The larval period continues for 4 to 5 weeks and is followed by a pupal stage which lasts for about a week and a half. The adult of potato beetle then emerges from the soil and feeds on the leaves. Leaves injured by potato flea beetles are perforated with many small holes and consequently don’t manufacture a normal supply of food. If badly injured, the leaves may dry up and drop off. One to three broods are produced each year, depending upon climatic conditions.
How to control potato flea beetle?
Excellent control of the flea beetle has been obtained for many years by applying two pounds of 50% wettable powder or three to four pints of 25% DDT emulsion in 100 gallons of water per acre. When used as a dust, applications of 30-40 pounds of 3-5% DDT are recommended. While DDT still provides good control, it appears that the insect has developed some resistance to this insecticide in certain sections. Under such conditions, ¼ pound of actual dieldrin or endrin may be added or used to replace a part of the DDT. Relatively good control can also be obtained by using ¼ pound of actual parathion or demeton or 1 ½ pounds of toxaphene per acre.
Many insecticides such as DDT, parathion, demeton, and other lose their killing power when allowed to remain in contact with lime for a period of time. For this reason, these insecticides should not be mixed with such fungicides as Bordeaux or copper-lime dusts. These insecticides can, however, be effectively used with such fungicides as the carbamates and the “fixed” coppers. Insecticides applications should be started when the plants are about six inches high and continued at seven to ten day intervals for the remainder of the growing season.