Flea beetles

I have seen extremely small insects, about 1/10 of an inch, crawling around on the soil of one of my indoor flowering plants. At first I thought they might be mites but they were nowhere to be found on the leaves. Furthermore, these insects hop when trying to pick them up. I first discovered the insects when I noticed a trail of ants going into the soil but I quickly sprinkled cinnamon to try and kill them. It seems that the ants have gone but now I am stuck with these tiny insects that are crawling around in the soil and I think killing the plant, as once-strong leaves are turning yellow/white and then curling over before dropping.

You described flea beetles. The adults eat leaves. They jump around so the damage is not as apparent as with caterpillars. Instead, the holes chewed in the leaves are smaller, but can be found throughout the plant. Their pupae live in the soil chewing on roots. The combination of attacks on the canopy and the roots severely damages the plant, leaving it vulnerable to attack by pathogens.

These insects can be eliminated using organic means. To knock down the population of adults feeding on the leaves as well as the pupae, use a pyrethrum spray and pyrethrum drench. Then use Botanigard, which is a myco-insecticide. The living fungus attacks insects, but is not interested in you or your pets.

Beneficial nematodes should be added to the soil. They will eat the pupae and eliminate any remaining pests before they mature.

Readers with grow questions (or answers) should send them to Ed at: Ask Ed, PMB 147, 530 Divisadero St., San Francisco, California 94117, USA. You can also email Ed at [email protected], and send queries via his websites at www.ask-ed.net. All featured questions will be rewarded with a copy of Ed’s new book, Best of Ask Ed: Your Marijuana Questions Answered. Sorry, Ed cannot send personal replies to your questions.



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