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Flea Beetle PLAGUE!!!

 
Nick Ferguson
Posts: 4
Location: North Central Louisiana
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I'm at my wits end, composting, huge polyculture, no till mulch, chickens tractored around the perimeter of the garden. Flea beetles are destroying everything... clover included!

I'm about to resort to neem oil sprayed across the whole friggin garden. Any suggestions? at this point a garden sprayed with neem oil is better than no garden.
 
Alder Burns
pollinator
Posts: 1331
Location: northern California
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I've probably never dealt with what I'd call a plague of them, but in GA they were often a problem on new plants of various kinds....eggplant, peppers, sweetpotatoes, cucurbits, etc. I found that a dust of DE (diatomaceous earth) gave pretty good control. It will wash off in rain and needs hasty replacing. I eventually found by trial and error that a blend of about 25% DE and 75% wood ash worked nearly as well as straight DE and saves a bunch....
 
Alder Burns
pollinator
Posts: 1331
Location: northern California
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Incidentally, I'm using the same dust now for earwigs and slugs to equal benefit.....
 
Judith Browning
Pie
Posts: 5546
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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bike chicken fungi trees urban woodworking
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Hi, Nick...sounds bad, but maybe there is hope before Neem oil. I have only had bad flea beetle infestations on certain plants...eggplant being their favorite. Some years they shoot my young tomatoes full of holes but soon the plants out grow them.. If it were me I would make sure all of my plants were healthy and growing well, get rid of any that attract flea beetles (I think some folks use ameranth as a catch crop) and then I would watch for a natural predator to show up. I think I felt your same frustration here the year THOUSANDS of striped blister beetles moved in...in the end, all of my stomping them and soapy water and even a little pyrethrum flower spray (I grew them two years and then realized that wasnt the direction I wanted to go) did not make much difference....the shop vac was totally satisfying but not a real solution. They were gone in their own good time and I replanted what I lost.
It does help to know their lifecycle and how may times they hatch over the summer...I thought flea beetles were an early problem and then gone. I am not familiar with neem oil but I would worry you might fix this years problem but throw off your insect balance for next year if it kills everything.
Just my thoughts...not necessarily a solution for you....welcome to Permies!
 
Judith Browning
Pie
Posts: 5546
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
260
bike chicken fungi trees urban woodworking
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...and I do remember reading that some shade will discourage them but I don't have any first hand experience with that.
 
Nick Ferguson
Posts: 4
Location: North Central Louisiana
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This is not a small infestation. The only thing outgrowing them are half of my tomatoes. Everything else growing in the garden including about 20 "weeds" are so damaged that I think I'm going to have bare soil by June if not for mulch. Beans, peas, peppers, tomatillos, squash, watermelon, cantaloupe, even herbs like basil, oregano, calendula, etc... The clovers are almost all completely white from leaf damage. I think there's some mineral deficiency that is making them target my garden. Also, I was wondering if there was a nematode that targeted the larval form in the soil...

*edit* garden is 150' E to W, 75' N to S
Zone 8 Louisiana, hot and humid, no hard freeze this past "winter"
 
Judith Browning
Pie
Posts: 5546
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
260
bike chicken fungi trees urban woodworking
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When you described the clover as almost looking white from the damage I wondered if you are absolutely sure these are flea beetles? The only damage I have seen them do is small holes all over the leaves and the ring around the hole turns brown. I notice that leaf miners will eventually cause a leaf to look pale and maybe thrips. Could you describe the damage and the insect some more?
 
Morgan Morrigan
Posts: 1400
Location: Verde Valley, AZ.
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Could try a soap/sulphur/boric acid spray in a small section., see if it works.

I havn't tried mixing sulphur and boric before, but know boric will kill good fungi and other beneficial insects too... and doesn't work that great on flea beetles either.

doesn't sound like flea beetles to me either.

http://www.gardeners.com/on/demandware.store/Sites-Gardeners-Site/default/Link-Page?cid=5285&SC=XNET0002
 
J W Richardson
Posts: 66
Location: Council, ID
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I was just reading Eliot Coleman describing vacuuming machines designed for bug removal on row crops. Others talked about using their Dustbusters. Also, a guy in the Gardenweb market garden forums grows everything under row cover from the start, and if they get under them, he puts plastic water filled water bottles covered with Tanglefoot inside the covers, and gets them that way. Not sure if they are attracted to the Tanglefoot or just end up stuck by default.
 
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