PO Box 2458, Tijeras NM 87059

Mountain Gardens--finding success with plants for the high desert and East Mountains of New Mexico

Monday, June 4, 2012

 Flea beetles are emerging now, and doing serious feeding damage. Those of us who are familiar with the tiny black beetles that leave minute shot holes in cabbage leaves may be surprised at the size of some of our New Mexico species. A 1/4 inch or more long, they're capable of eating entire leaves, virtually defoliating plants. We found them this morning on a dozen pots of fireweed. A further search revealed the skeletonized leaves of my grapes. But only a few were on the garden veggies.

Good sanitation is the best defense against these little eating machines. Clear all plant debris from the vegetable beds (why didn't I make the time to do this?!!!!). Stir the soil around plant roots to expose eggs. Cover favorite plants (this would be all veggies!) with floating row cover--the best course after a new planting.

After they emerge, dust with diatomaceous earth or rotenone. On ornamentals try Sevin (carbaryl) or malathion. remember to follow directions. Any chemical can be dangerous. While carbaryl is considered safe for food crops, systemics like malathion are not.

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