Flea Beetles

PLANTS ATTACKED: Corn, grain sorghum, small grain, broomcorn and several other crops.

DESCRIPTION: Adult. Many species of flea beetles attack forage crops. The overall color varies greatly according to the species. Some are uniformly pale brown to black, while others are yellow to almost black with broad white or yellow stripes. The femora of the hind legs are enlarged and used for jumping.

LIFE HISTORY: The insect passes the winter as an adult in areas along fence rows, roadsides, in trash and other debris affording protection from adverse weather conditions. It becomes active during the spring. After mating, the female deposits eggs on the leaves or in the ground about the roots of the host plant. The larva may cause some damage, but information pertaining to this stage is scant. Some species have only one generation while others may have two generations per year.

DAMAGE: The adults of the overwintering generation are especially injurious to young corn. They eat tiny holes in the leaves and the attacked plant soon becomes bleached. Growth of the plant is retarded greatly. Corn plants usually are fed on during the first 2 or 3 weeks following germination. Injury caused by these insects is severe during cold or wet seasons because the growth of the plants is slow under such conditions, thus affording a long period for the flea beetles to feed on them. Flea beetles are also credited with the spread of bacterial wilt of corn.