Flea beetles (Nisostra spp., Podagrica spp.)
These are common pests of okra. They are tiny to small beetles, with enlarged hind legs that enable them to jump long distances when disturbed. The colour of the adult beetles varies from black, brown, black and yellow striped or metallic blue-green depending on the species. The adults feed on cotyledons, stems and leaves. They make many small holes on okra leaves, known as "shot-holes". Larvae of flea beetles live in the soil and feed on okra roots, but the damage caused is not of economic importance. Flea beetles are particularly damaging to young plants. Seedlings may wilt and die under heavy flea beetle attack or may stunt if injury is not severe. Damage to cotyledons and young leaves is the major cause of crop loss, generally leading to uneven crop stand. When large numbers of flea beetles are present they will also feed on flower buds and pods, causing yield loss by injuring the pods. Damaged pods are not marketable. Some species of flea beetles are reported to transmit the Okra Mosaic Virus in West Africa.
- Rock powders and clay minerals have a repellent effect on adult flee beetles.
- Treat plants with pyrethrum extracts. They kill adults and larvae. For more information on Pyrethrum click here.