My mother is in a furor because the grapevine that she planted last spring and which flourished last year is now infested with little black bugs. From what I can tell, they seem to be flea beetles. (Are those thousands of tiny black spots they have left everywhere feces or eggs?)
I’ve read conflicting information about them being a problem, not being a problem, even being beneficial. She is sure that the level of damage they are doing is certainly harmful since they have already pretty much destroyed most of the few leaves that have managed to bloom so far this year.
The vine is not on the ground; it grows up around the porch (she intends it to be used as a sort of privacy hedge when it thickens), so some pest-management techniques like row-covers or growing repellent companion plants around it likely will not work (also, there are already lots of birds that frequent the area all day and they don’t seem to help).
Can anybody advise on how harmful they are and of a way to deal with them? (Preferably something not involving pesticides since they are poison, cost money, and would require searching town for a supply.)
Figure 1: Vine configuration
Figure 2: Leaf damage
Figure 3: Army of beetles