If the leaves of your garden plants look like they’ve been blasted with buckshot, you have a flea beetle infestation. It looks pretty bad, but healthy, mature plants usually survive attacks by this insect pest, whose larvae nibble on tender young roots. It’s difficult if not impossible to eliminate a severe flea beetle infestation for the current season, even using chemical insecticides. But you can reduce it with natural and organic control methods and completely eradicate its likelihood of returning next year.
Put yellow sticky traps up in your gardening area. Their catch will alert you immediately to the presence of flea beetles.
Weed your garden and the surrounding areas thoroughly to deprive developing flea beetle larvae of food sources.
Mulch your garden as deeply as possible. This will make it difficult if not impossible for flea beetle larvae to emerge from the ground as adults. Sprinkle hot pepper over your mulch once weekly, and reapply after rainfall or watering.
Plant radishes every 6 to 12 inches throughout your garden as early as weather permits and before you set anything else out. Radishes are flea beetle favorites, and will attract them immediately. Setting them out early will give the radishes a chance to grow taller than other plants, another feature attractive to flea beetles.
Set garden plants out as late in the season as possible. Warmer weather boosts plant vigor, enabling them to outgrow damage inflicted by flea beetle feeding habits.
Walk down the rows of your garden, waving strips of sticky flypaper close to the foliage. Startled flea beetles will jump from the leaves and stick to the adhesive.
Cover seedlings with polyester screening to keep the flea beetles from feeding on them. Remove the covers right before plants flower so pollination isn’t inhibited.
Clean your garden and remove all vegetation at the end of the season. Don’t add infected materials to your compost heap.