Integrated Pest Management

Sumac Flea Beetle

Blepharida rhois

sumac flea beetle

Sumac flea beetle (David Cappaert,

sumac flea beetle larva

Sumac flea beetle 1st instar larvae (Ryan Davis, Utah State University Extension)

sumac flea beetle larvae

Sumac flea beetle late instar larvae (Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University,

Pest Description

  • adults: ~ 1/4 inch; cream colored with red markings on the wings; prothorax and head are orange
  • wing coloration/pattern can be variable
  • larvae: up to ~1/4 inch, yellow with pale stripes and black heads; larvae
  • partially covered in fecal material
  • eggs: laid in small groups and are covered with various colors of excrement

Host Plants, Diet & Damage

  • skunkbush; smokebush
  • feed on leaves, creating a ragged appearance
  • larvae occasionally defoliate plants
  • damage may be localized or over the whole tree
  • repeated defoliation may cause plant death

Biology, Life Cycle & Damaging Life Stage

  • overwinter as adults outdoors
  • adults emerge in spring and feed on expanding foliage
  • eggs are laid on branches in fecal egg cases
  • larvae hatch and feed in groups on leaves
  • larvae are typically present from mid-May to early-June
  • larvae crawl down the tree and pupate in the soil
  • new adults emerge in about 2 weeks and lay eggs
  • after emerging, adults continue to feed until overwintering
  • one generation per year
  • larvae are the primary damaging life stage, but adults also cause damage

IPM Recommendations

  • Manage trees to improve or maintain overall health.
  • Pesticides are not typically needed for this pest.
  • Monitor the leaves for larvae in mid- to late-May.
  • Apply an insecticide (Bacillus thuringiensis var. tenebrionis; carbamate; pyrethroid) to branches and leaves just after egg hatch to control young larvae.