Insects, Insects, Insects!

Flea beetles . . . look closely!

Flea beetles . . . look closely!

Flea beetles — Phyllotreta vittula

Flea beetles — Phyllotreta vittula. Credit: Wikipedia

I wish, as organic farmers, we could just say our plants are soooo healthy, they just repel insects on their own. . . 

While it is true that healthy plants can be less attractive to insect pests and less susceptible to disease, we still sometimes have to fight the fight.

Some years that’s more true than others . . . this year spring flea beetles have been voracious and everywhere . . . they even somehow got under the rowcovers that usually keep them off the crops.

They must have been just waiting in the soil for us to seed their favorite meal: arugula and mustards. You may recognize the little pinholes . . . and I am pointing at one of the mini black beetles . . . looks like a flea!  Sometimes we just need to accept the insect’s transformation of our crop and just exclaim, “Holy Arugula, Batman!”… or make the perforated leaves sound fancy:  “Ah, arugula lace salad for dinner tonight….”

Cucumbers after a visit from their beetle friends

Cucumbers after a visit from their beetle friends

We are also having quite a problem with striped cucumber beetles in our greenhouse. You may have wondered what those marks are on the cucumbers that you have been getting in your CSA share or at the farmers’ market. That is the mark of the cucumber beetles just lightly nibbling on the cukes when they are tiny . . . these are the scars . . . Really it is just skin deep, it’s nothing a peeler won’t help us out with.

Striped cuke beetle

Striped cuke beetle going to work . . . Credit: Wikipedia

And here is the little rascal responsible:


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