- Flea beetles are members of the genus Epitrix.
- The common name “flea beetle” indicates the adults’ habit of jumping when disturbed.
- In other countries a number of species of the genus Epitrix feed on potatoes; the two species native to the UK (E. atropae and E. pubescens) do not.
- There is concern that damaging species could be introduced from other countries such as Spain and Portugal.
- Adults of potato pest species feed on foliage, producing small, scattered holes (1 – 1.5 mm in diameter) and occasionally damage may be severe enough to depress yield.
- Larvae of these species feed on roots and, in some species, on tubers.
- Damage to tubers takes the form of tunnelling across the tuber surface which can severely reduce crop value or result in crop rejection; damage can also result in storage problems, e.g. secondary rots.
- Control is by avoiding introduction of Epitrix pest species.
- After consultation DEFRA introduced the following measures.
- An amendment (the Plant Health (England) (Amendment) Order 2016) came into force on 24 February 2016 to supplement EU measures already in place.
- These measures apply to potatoes exported from outbreak areas in Spain that are under the control of the Spanish Plant Health Service.
- The Amendment Order requires that all other potatoes to be imported into England from mainland Spain must be washed first, to kill or remove any potato flea beetles (Epitrix) which might be present.
Notes on potato flea beetles
Potato flea beetles 2011 (Biology, risk and control)