Have you noticed that it seems each year we learn to handle one type of pest and then a new pest crops up, seemingly in its place? I call this the ‘pest of the year’. Each year I’ll notice one certain pest seems to overtake every other, one that seems to munch on more than I would expect it to.
I tend to do what many of us do at first – ignore it and hope it will go away. Occasionally this works. Occasionally it runs out of food (and maybe I’ve lost my plants), or its cycle has run out, or some other critter had found it super tasty and handled it for me, without my intervention. Yet, this is not what usually happens with an infestation of a critter that has gone crazy where it had not before.
Sometimes we’ll use something to help us ID the critter and then? Well, most folks I know, contact me, but for all those out there who don’t, they are doing what many of us do when trying to find the answer to their pest problem. They try and find, or remember, something to do from any source they come across or heard was good, and hope it will work. Granted, there is an element of ‘hope it works’ in most cases when dealing with many pests, but we can mitigate this to a higher success rate when, as I say “You seek professional gardening advise and get training, you overcome the blindspots to your gardening success”.
This year, I have gotten several emails, texts and photos from students and clients asking, “What is making these little holes in my plants?” And, this indeed is the ‘pest of the year’ in my gardens also, hence this post. So this pest is Flea Beetles.
Their favorite is eggplant. Can’t remember a year when I didn’t have at least a little flea beetle damage on my eggplants, but his year, wow! They also seem to be heading on to some folks tomatoes and peppers too, which is not what I normally see.
So here are my top three recommendations for dealing with flea beetles. All three of these are available from my favorite organic pest control company, Arbico Organics. These folks are awesome.
- Beneficial Nematodes – Many of you have heard me talk about how important healthy living soil is, how we don’t want to use chemical pesticides and fertilizers to keep those soil critters alive and working for us. Well, we can bring in even more little beneficial critters to our soil that will handle all kinds of critters that want to eat our food. Check out Arbico’s “Triple Threat” Beneficial Nematodes as they are a better bang for your buck than the one type that includes flea beetles.
2. Surround®, or Kaolin Clay – This product is literally a clay. The cool thing about this product is that is can be used for all kinds of critters and even to cool down plant leaves. When you add it to water and spray it, it makes the leaves white, and experience shows, that among other things the product touts, such as the coating seriously messing with various insect critter, it works on four legged critters too. Many animals won’t eat the leaves because they look white and not green. Pretty cool and it is, as I said, just a clay.
3. Monetery Garden Insect Spray – For someone wanting to use a spray, I recommend this one. This tends to be my last choice when the infestation has stripped my plants of all their leaves and I am still trying to save the plant. It will kill lots of types of critters though, which always gives me pause because I like to keep my garden diverse.
Most years, flea beetles only do a bit of damage, the plants have some holes, but it does not hinder fruit production. We’ll see how this year goes. If you found this useful, remember what I say, “If you seek professional gardening advise and get training, you overcome the blind spots to your gardening success”. – Debby