Pure stands in Nairobi were observed to be attacked by flea beetles (Phyllotreta mashonana). (EcoPort: Wilfried Baudoin).
Flea beetles are tiny to small with enlarged hindlegs that enable them to jump long distance when disturbed. The adults vary in colour from shiny black or metallic grey to black with yellow stripes on the wing cases. Eggs are laid in the soil near the host plant. The larvae generally feed on the plant roots, but usually do not cause economic damage. The characteristic symptom of flea beetle attack is small, round holes all over the leaf surface. Damage may be of importance when flea beetles are present in large numbers, especially during the seedling stage.
- Weeding in and around fields may help to eliminate flea beetle shelters and breeding sites, reducing crop damage.
- Covering the seedbed with a fine-mesh material is useful to protect seedlings.