Document Type


Publication Date



leafy spruge, flea beetle, south dakota, beetle management

Extension Number

ExEx 8161


Plant Science


The leafy spurge flea beetle (Aphthona species) has been an effective means of controlling leafy spurge in South Dakota since the mid-1980s. Of the six Aphthona flea beetle species approved and released for controlling leafy spurge, only the A. nigriscutis and A. lacertosa have had significant effect. This group of flea beetles are hostspecific to the leafy spurge plant, thereby making them an ideal biological control choice. The flea beetles typically take 3 to 5 years to establish and impact leafy spurge infestations. Once established, the adult flea beetles can be collected with sweep nets and moved to other leafy spurge infestations. The leafy spurge flea beetle has a one-year life cycle. Adults will emerge from the soil in early- to mid-June. These adults will live for about 45 to 65 days, at which time they mate and the females lay eggs. Although adults feed on the leaves and stems of the leafy spurge plants, it is the newly hatched larvae feeding on roots and root hairs that do the most damage. Larvae hatch about 14 to 19 days after the eggs are laid. The larvae will then spend the rest of the summer and early fall feeding on the leafy spurge root system.