Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Agriculture, Food and Environment



First Advisor

Dr. David Gonthier

Second Advisor

Dr. Mark WIlliams


Flea beetles are a challenging pest for many producers of vegetable crops in Kentucky. Chewing numerous small holes in the leaves of their host plants, high flea beetle populations can quickly overwhelm unestablished crops. I tested the efficacy of several alternatives to insecticides within brassicaceous leafy greens and eggplant. Four field trials in 2019 and 2020 compared essential oil sprays, the woven-mesh row cover ProtekNet, the spunbonded row cover Agribon, and reflective silver mulch to an untreated control, a conventional insecticide rotation of dinotefuran and pyrethroids, and an organic insecticide rotation of spinosad and pyrethrins. The silver reflective mulch was used within the eggplant trials and was compared against black plastic mulch. This thesis demonstrates the efficacy of row covers in limiting damage by flea beetles and improving marketable yield in brassicaceous greens and eggplant. On the contrary, other new alternatives, including silver plastic mulches and the essential oils from thyme, rosemary, eucalyptus, neem, peppermint, and geranium showed no better control than the untreated control, and in some cases, reduced yield by harming plants. For this reason, further research and outreach should focus on the life expectancy of row covers and expanding their adoption.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Funding Information

Kentucky Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant

(PON2 035 1900003060 AM180100XXXXG007)


National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture Hatch Grant