Flea Beetle Damage on Amaranth Plants

Ugh, flea beetles. I’ve been meaning to make this post for a couple weeks now, but I’ve been so busy running around doing whatever that I’ve been falling behind. There’s also a video that should accompany this post on the YouTube channel, but honestly, I haven’t even recorded the audio for it yet. I also have a “garden update” video that I haven’t recorded audio for edited. I also need to find time to answer comments. Blah, blah, blah, right? Anyway – flea beetles.

I have flea beetles every season in the garden, but this year, they are specifically bad. At least, they’re bad on my amaranth plants. Towards the beginning of the season, I started seeing them on all the plants in my garden. Cucumbers, squash, everything. Due to their striped appearance, at first glance, I thought that the cucumber beetles had arrived. I was super irritated, as wilt is a major pain for my yard. After a closer look, I saw that these definitely weren’t cucumber beetles. Annoyed that they were on EVERYTHING, I actually bought an organic control. I hate spraying things in my yard, and I only do so when it’s necessary.

Fast forward a week (without even spraying) and the beetles had vanished! Wonderful, I thought. As I would soon discover later, the bugs had simply found a better host plant – the amaranth.

In general, I don’t look at the amaranth plants very often. I grow them to use in flower arrangements, or sometimes for the grain. Therefore, I like to plant them wayyy back in the corner of the garden where they don’t get in the way of other plants that I pick more often – like zinnias or green beans. It wasn’t until things started looking weird that I crawled (yes, crawled) back to look at the plants.

 

The plants has been completely skeletalized! Ugh! WHAT?!?!? As it turns out, a well established group of flea beetles had taken up residence, laid eggs, and hatched them. In addition to the actual bug damage, the flea beetle larvae was totally goin’ to town and eating every inch of the plant. 

Even weirder was the obvious preference of the bugs to choose the amaranth varieties that have the most succulent leaves. For example, the ornamental variety I planted for foliage was obliterated. The red variety was comparatively untouched, as it’s leaves are very thick and leathery (it’s usually grown for grain).

At the end of the day, I’m kind of annoyed that my amaranth have to been totally infested with these things. However, I’m soooo glad this didn’t happen to everything else that I planted.


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