I have previously noticed (on a sunny day, when my plants were all still small) a lot of tiny black/gray (maybe even /brown) bugs crawling around on the woodchips in my garden with a seeming flea-like ability to jump very far.

Today (an overcast day with possibility of rain) I noticed a lot of them on the leaves of my young Yukon gold potato plants. I am wondering what these bugs are, if they're harmful, and, if so, how to get rid of them (preferably quickly, effectively, and permanently or at least semi-permanently). My best guess from a quick Google search is flea beetle, but those look too black for the bugs I have in my garden. Image shown below. There are three gray dots near the top of the leaf and one near the middle; these are the bugs. Sorry I didn't have a macro lens to take a better close-up.

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2 Answers 2


Sounds like maybe flea beetles. They are small beetles that overwinter in the garden that jump around like fleas when they are disturbed. The larvae eat small roots and the adults eat the leaves but unless there is a lot of damage it won't hurt the plants too much. The leaf damage caused by adults usually looks like someone took a mini shotgun to the leaves. Small tiny holes throughout the leaves.

You don't mention where you are or what plants are affected but different species go after different types of vegetables and ornamental plants. Every once once in a while I find an eggplant with swiss cheese leaves. It's odd because they might attack one plant and leave the others around it untouched.

I've sprayed them with a neem mixture because that's something I always have handy and that helped but that may be hit or miss depending on the species. Spinosad and diatomaceous earth may be more effective.

  • How would you apply the diatomaceous earth? To the leaves, or just around the plant? (I only see them on the leaves).
    – NSGod
    Jun 25, 2019 at 14:27
  • @NSGod I put it in an empty water bottle (dry) with the sports cap and squeeze it around the ground. Jun 25, 2019 at 17:16

I don't know if they are harmful. I do know that I've had success recently getting rid of these and related pest-like bugs (including aphids) in my vegetable garden (and on my fruit trees) by spraying them with soapy water.

I use a 1 gallon garden sprayer ($10 from Home Depot) which allows me to get a good mist without having to constantly pull a trigger on a smaller bottle which tires the hand. Put the water in the bottle first otherwise you'll end up with a bunch of bubbles and not much water. We use a very mild environment friendly dish washing liquid (Ultra Dishmate) in our house and I use that.

I saw somewhere else that someone suggested diluted coffee. I plan on trying that but have not done so yet.

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