Welcome to good beetle bad beetle, the blog where learning about farm and garden pests is super hip!
I work on a tiny farm in Vermont teeming with beetles. Some are good, some are bad. Is it that simple? I'd like to learn more about them and share my findings with the world...or just some nerdy farmsters.
Let's start with a wee beetle I love to hate.
Name: Flea Beetle
Occupation: Decimating helpless seedlings, preferably of the brassica variety (kale, cabbage, broccoli, mustards etc.). However, these active pests do not discriminate and will munch upon the young growth of many crops, leaving tiny pinholes that will eventually make your plant leaves resemble lace doilies.
There are many species of flea beetles that specialize in destroying particular crops. The species I encounter the most is the shiny black beetle pictured above. So far this season they have taken a toll on braising mix, arugula and radishes.
Prevention: Tightly sealed row covers (without holes!) help keep these buggers at bay while seedlings are most fragile. Once some plants get past seedling stage they are less susceptible to damage from flea beetles. If you're into spraying stuff, Sevin is the conventional growers' choice. Organic growers can spray with Pyganic(more on this later), Surround, or Entrust, which I don't know a lot about (look for "good insecticide bad insecticide" the blog...coming soon?).
Color they turn your fingers when you squish them: I haven't been able to catch one of the jumpy bastards just yet. But when I do...
Good beetle or bad beetle: BAD