Fuchsia flea beetle
Metallic blue fuchsia flea beetle adults and their black larvae can feed on the leaves of fuchsias and Zauschneria.
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 a subfamily of the leaf beetles (Chrysomelidae). Most do not feed on garden plants or have a noticeable effect on them. They are called flea beetles because they have enlarged hind legs which enable them to jump. There are about 250 species of leaf beetle in Britain, they range in size from 1 mm to 18 mm. More information on British leaf beetles can be found from UK Beetles.
At 5mm (¼in) long fuchsia flea beetles are larger than most other flea beetles found in Britain. They are 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 adult beetle is sometimes confused with blue mint beetle and alder leaf beetle. The former is slightly larger than fuchsia flea beetle and found on mint. The latter is found on trees, usually alder.
The black caterpillar-like larvae of fuchsia flea beetle 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.
Populations of fuchsia flea beetle can usually be accepted as part of garden biodiversity as small amounts of leaf loss will not affect the vigour or overall appearance of the plant.
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