Brassicaceous leafy greens are an important crop for small growers but are difficult to produce due to damage by flea beetles. Flea beetles are problematic for growers as they chew many small holes through leaves rendering produce unmarketable. We tested the efficacy of several essential oils, the woven-mesh row cover ProtekNet, and the spunbonded row cover Agribon, compared to organic and conventional insecticides and no spray controls in the spring and fall of 2019. We found that the two row cover treatments (Agribon and ProtekNet) provided the best control of flea beetles and associated damage. Thyme oil was highly phytotoxic and killed the crop entirely and rosemary and neem essential oils caused mild phytotoxic burns. Organic insecticides rarely performed better than the no spray control. While conventional insecticides controlled most flea beetles, the crop was often still too highly damaged to sell. The results of our study suggest row covers offer producers an effective method of flea beetle control that reduces their dependence on insecticides for conventional and organic production.

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Published in Insects, v. 11, issue 10, 714.

© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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This research and the Article Processing Charge were both funded by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture Hatch Grant (KY008079) and the Kentucky Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant (PON2 035 1900003060 AM180100XXXXG007).