It is this larval damage to the tubers that has a major impact on the appearance and quality of potatoes, which may render them unmarketable.
Recently, two Epitrix species have been recorded in Portugal and Spain, from which ware potatoes may be imported into Northern Ireland. While potato yields in Portugal have been largely unaffected, the economic value of the potatoes has been reduced. In addition, the damage caused by larval feeding may also affect tuber storage capability.
Potato flea beetle development
Potato flea beetles complete their development on plants belonging to the family Solanaceae, but the adults may feed on a wide range of unrelated plants.
Adult Epitrix species are similar in appearance, being dark brown/black (1.5 -2.0mm) with a characteristic enlarged femur on each of its hind legs (see figures right ©Jean-Francois Germain, LPNV Montpellier). This enables them to jump, particularly when disturbed.
It is essential to avoid introduction of this pest and potato growers and processors must be vigilant to ensure early detection. If you notice any of the symptoms above or find a suspect beetle, please report the finding to DAERA Plant Health Inspection Branch at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phoning 0300 200 7847 or AFBI at email@example.com.
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