Insect identification > Coleoptera > True Coleoptera > Flea beetles

Flea beetles

Flea beetles. - Many tiny beetles belonging in the Chrysomelidae are known as flea beetles because when disturbed they hop away like fleas. The economic forms vary in size from about a fifth to a fifteenth of an inch in length. Most of them are blackish or steel blue, though some have portions of the body yellow, whitish, red or of other colors. The hind femora are very large, enabling the insects to make vigorous leaps.

The adults feed on the leaves, eating tiny holes, while in most cases the larvae are root feeders, generally on the same plants which their adults attack, though in some cases they also attack the leaves. Many attack garden crops such as the potato, turnip, beet, spinach, rhubarb and radish, while other species feed on the strawberry, grape, tobacco, hop, clover, apple, Virginia creeper, willow, alder, etc.

In most cases there are two generations a year, the first appearing early in the season and the second in midsummer or early fall, though some species have but one generation and some have several.

It is believed that the cucumber flea beetle like the striped cucumber beetle may inoculate plants with the cucurbit mosaic already referred to. Certainly the tiny holes made in the leaves by their feeding provide excellent places for the spores of fungi to establish themselves and produce disease.