The species Epitrix cucumeris is commonly known as the potato flea beetle. This species is known to be a serious pest of a wide variety of vegetable crops. Infestations can occur in tomato, pepper, eggplant, bean, cabbage, corn, cucumber, lettuce and spinach, among numerous other plants. Damage results through feeding, causing numerous holes in the leaves. In severe cases, the plant can die or production can be strongly diminished – this emphasises the importance of scouting and control.
The potato flea beetle adult is approximately 1.7 mm in length and 1 mm wide. It is black with brown legs and antennae. Normally, the species is unable to fly, but it will jump actively, especially when disturbed (i.e. if the plants are moved). Feeding takes place on both the upper (primarily) and lower leaf surface. Damage includes rounded wounds, 0.1 mm to 5 mm in diameter, which usually go through the leaf to form a hole.
Once seedling has emerged, begin scouting for the potato flea beetle using yellow sticky traps. When scouting, be careful not to disturb the plants as this will lessen the accuracy of numbers collected. Seedlings do not tolerate flea beetle damage; therefore, a threshold of 3-5 beetles per seedling for potatoes is used. Cole crops are even less tolerant, with a threshold of 1-3 per plant