What to do about flea beetles in the garden? CFSA points members to Pacific Northwest report

Garden season may seem months away, but winter’s a good time for casual gardeners and farmers alike to ponder ways to battle pests. A Carolina Farm Stewardship Association member sent out this missive:

Here is an new, free, and interesting publication on organic management of flea beetles. Although it comes from the Pacific Northwest and the flea beetle species may differ, the biological background, tactics, and management strategies may be helpful to us in the Carolinas.

The report is “Organic Management of Flea Beetles — a Pacific Northwest Publication.” It cites a variety of ways to battle the pesky flea beetles, which love crops like broccoli and potatoes. Organic solutions include planting earlier or later to dodge the pests’ typical life cycle (larvae emerge from the ground in late- to mid-spring); planting a trap crop to divert the flea beetles from your prize crops; grow anise, dill, marigold and other flowering crops to attract the pests’ natural predators, such as lacewing larvae and damsel bugs; mow, weed and remove plant debris to reduce the pests’ overwinter habitat (apparently, “Particularly troublesome weeds are volunteer host plants such as weedy mustards”), and more.

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