Fuchsia flea beetle

Metallic blue fuchsia flea beetle adults and their black larvae can feed on the leaves of fuchsias, occasionally resulting in severe defoliation.

Fuchsia flea beetle

Fuchsia flea beetle

Quick facts

Common name Fuchsia flea beetle
Scientific name Altica species usually A. lythri
Plants affected Fuchsia and zauschneria
Main symptoms Holes in leaves
Most active April-September

What is fuchsia flea beetle?

There are more than 100 species of flea beetle in Britain. They are called flea beetles because they have enlraged hind legs which enable them to jump long distances.

At 5mm (¼in) long fuchsia flea beetles are larger than most other flea beetles found in Britain.  It is metallic dark blue and in gardens feeds on Fuchsia and occasionally zauschneria, evening primrose (Oenothera) and Potentilla. In the wild it feeds on a range of plants in the Onagraceae especially willowherbs (Epilobium and Chamaenerion). It overwinters as adults which emerge in the spring, sometimes in large numbers.

The black caterpillar-like larvae also feed on the leaves of host plants. Larvae can be found on the leaves from April to August. 

The adults and larvae feed on the shoot tips and leaves, resulting in holes in the foliage and in some cases brown patches where only one surface of the leaf has been eaten.

Control

Light infestations of fuchsia flea beetle can be tolerated as small amounts of leaf loss will not affect the vigour or overall appearance of the plant.

Non-pesticide control

Hand removal of the adults and larvae can help reduce the population.

Pesticide control

  • If desired and where it is impractical to remove beetles by hand  pesticides can be used
  • Pesticides are likely to be more effective on larvae than adults
  • Organic contact insecticides containing natural pyrethrins (e.g. Bug Clear Gun for Fruit & Veg, Ecofective Bug Killer). Several application of these short persistence products may be necessary to give good control
  • More persistent contact insecticides include the synthetic pyrethroids lambda-cyhalothrin (e.g. Westland Resolva Pest Killer), deltamethrin (e.g. Provanto Ultimate Fruit & Vegetable Bug Killer) and cypermethrin (e.g. Py Bug Killer)
  • The systemic neonicotinoid insecticide acetamiprid (e.g. Bug Clear Ultra) is also available
  • Follow label instructions when using pesticides
  • Plants in flower should not be sprayed due to the danger to pollinating insects
  • Inclusion of a pesticide product does not indicate a recommendation or endorsement by the RHS. It is a list of products currently available to the home gardener.

Download

Pesticides for gardeners (Adobe Acrobat pdf document outlining pesticides available to gardeners)


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