Flea Beetles are insects which measure 1/16 to 1/4 inch in length. They are black or metallic blue in color, and some have either a thin, yellow stripe or tiny, white spots on the wing casings. Flea Beetles feed on the foliage of African Violets, chewing small, round holes in the leaves. They have large hind legs similar to a cricket's, and they jump like fleas when disturbed. If left untreated, Flea Beetles can cause a lot of damage to African Violets.
If your African Violet has this symptom, it probably has Flea Beetles.
If possible, remove Flea Beetles by hand. For heavier infestations, you may need to spray with Malathion (1 teaspoon of Malathion 50 per 4 liters of water). Please note that Malathion may discolor the flowers of African Violets. If this happens, do not be overly concerned. The discoloration is only temporary and will cease as new flowers open.
As an alternative to traditional chemical treatments, try spraying with Neem (Azadirachtin). Neem is a substance which has natural insecticidal properties, and according to currently available research, it is biodegradable and non-toxic. When sprayed on African Violets, it discourages Flea Beetles by making the plant unpalatable. Though Neem does have some systemic effect in plants, spray it as you would other contact insecticides, being sure to cover those areas where Flea Beetles tend to attack.
When working outside, always change clothes before working with indoor plants. Flea Beetles may get trapped in clothing where they can go undetected until they find their way to your African Violets.
Important Note on the Use of Pesticides
Please note that almost all pesticides are formulated for specific uses and conditions. When applied incorrectly, pesticides can cause ill health or damage to plants. Therefore, when using any kind of pesticide or chemical treatment, always apply as indicated on the product label.
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