Metallic Flea Beetle

Common Name: Metallic Flea Beetle.

Scientific Name: Altica Litigata.

What to look for?  Blackish-blue and white, armored insect with a distinctive body! Metallic Flea Beetles have metallic blue, hard outer wings called elytra. These elytra protect similarly metallic-looking bodies of a purplish-bronze color that are elongated-oval in shape. The Metallic Flea Beetle has long, thread-like antennae with eleven segments. They have round eyes.  The Metallic Flea Beetle has strong, enlarged hind legs, allowing them to jump long distances like true fleas.

Where can they be found at Carillon Stonegate Pond? The Metallic Flea Beetle is not a regular sighting. I found several visiting some Rattlesnake Master plants at Stonegate Park.

How big are they? The male Metallic Flea Beetle averages approximately one-fourth of one inch in length; a female Metallic Flea Beetle is slightly larger.

What are their flight patterns? Metallic Flea Beetles can fly well and may fly long distances in search of suitable plants.

How else do they behave? The Metallic Flea Beetle has great jumping skills – like its namesake, a flea.

What’s for dinner? The Metallic Flea Beetle feed on host and other plants as both larvae and adults.

Where do they take up residence? The Metallic Flea Beetle lives throughout North America. Their habitat ranges from prairies and meadows to parks and gardens.

When and where do they breed and nest? Several species of flea beetles feed on a variety of plants in Illinois.  They overwinter as adults in leaf litter, hedgerows, windbreaks, and wooded areas. In early spring, the adults become active and mate.  Females will lay single eggs or clusters of eggs in small holes in roots, soil, or leaves of plants. Following egg hatch, small white larvae feed on the roots of the plants. Larvae then pupate in the ground, and a few weeks later, a new generation of adults emerge and feed on foliage, just as the previous generation did.  There are usually one to two generations per year.

Where do they migrate? The Metallic Flea Beetle does not migrate.

Do they make any interesting sounds? No.

Interesting Facts About the Metallic Flea Beetle:

  • The name Altica is derived from the Greek word haltikos which translates to good jumper.

  • There have been 72 species in the genus Altica reported in America north of Mexico alone.

  • Although these species may become pests because they feed on economically important plants, some flea beetles in this genus may be considered beneficial because of their significant use for bio-control of weeds.

  • Flea beetles are in the largest subfamily (Alticinae) of the family Chrysomelidae, or leaf beetles.

For more information on the Metallic Flea Beetle (and other Flea Beetles) and sources of information used in this blog (these are the several of the sources that I am using to learn as I blog), please visit University of Florida Featured Creatures, University of Illinois Extension, Missouri Botanical Garden and University of Minnesota Yard and Garden Insects.

The Carillon at Stonegate community is very fortunate to have a variety of wetland, forest and prairie environments conducive to a variety of birds and other wildlife, insects and plants. Our community and the Kane County Forest Preserve do an exceptional job in maintaining this natural environment – both for the benefit of the birds and wildlife and for our residents to enjoy.

 

Take a hike and see what you can find – and identify!