Chapter 21

Managing Vineyard Insect and Mite Pests

Grape Flea Beetle

The grape flea beetle (Altica spp.), also known as the steely beetle, is a native insect and occurs in almost all states east of the Rocky Mountains and in Canada.


Adult flea beetles cause two types of damage—feeding directly on the buds and feeding on the foliage (See Figure 21.6). Overwintering adults attack the swelling buds by boring into them and hollowing out the inside. In contrast, the larvae and summer adults feed on the upper and lower leaf surfaces avoiding the leaf veins, causing some damage, although this injury is usually of little consequence.

Life Cycle

The adult grape flea beetle is one of the first insect pests to appear in vineyards in the spring. The adults overwinter in trashy or wooded areas and emerge in the spring when grapevine buds begin to swell. After feeding on buds for 1 to 2 weeks, females mate and lay masses of pale yellow eggs in cracks in the bark, at the base of buds, under bud scales, and on foliage (occasionally on upper leaf surface).


Monitoring for grape flea beetle should begin in the spring from bud swell to and continue until bud development is past the critical stage.

Pest Management

Cultural Practices

Woodlots and wasteland areas near vineyards should be cleaned up to eliminate overwintering sites.

Applying Control Materials

Infestations can be controlled with early-season insecticide application against adults migrating to grapevines from their hibernation sites, but timing is very critical.

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