Description: With the exception of the larger spinach flea beetles, these pests are tiny, measuring just a few millimeters long. Most species are dark colored, and many have a metallic shine. Flea beetles are so named for their ability to jump when disturbed; they have large hind legs that give them a surprising vertical leap.
Life cycle: Adult flea beetles overwinter in leaf litter, garden debris, or other sheltered places. As temperatures begin rising in spring, the adults emerge and locate suitable host plants on which they feed. Some flea beetles will feed on weeds until garden crops are available. In late spring, female flea beetles lay eggs in the soil around the base of host plants. Tiny larvae feed on roots and root hairs for about a month, and then pupate in the soil. Multiple generations of flea beetles may occur in many areas.
Crops damaged: Corn, cucumbers, squash, melons, pumpkinds, gourds, eggplant, potatoes, tomatoes, cabbage, lettuce, celery, radishes, peppers, spinach, sweet potatoes, carrots, watermelon, and others depending on flea beetle species.
Signs and symptoms: Numerous small holes in plant foliage, giving leaves a buckshot-ridden appearance. Stunted or wilting seedlings. Blemished or pimples root crops.