Fine mesh row cover provides alternative pest control strategy and outperforms conventional pesticides against flea beetles

To achieve more sustainable farming that reduces negative impacts on human and environmental health as well as climate change, our food system needs to reduce its reliance on chemicals for managing pests. A recent study published in the journal Insects has found that fine mesh row covers are an effective alternative strategy to chemicals that can manage flea beetles in mizuna and arugula, two mustard greens growing in culinary popularity. The study tested the efficacy of fine mesh netting used as row covers, essential oils, organic compliant pesticides and conventional pesticides for controlling flea beetles, a pest that has become increasingly challenging to manage. Flea beetles chew tiny holes in plant leaves. This doesn’t always affect plant growth. However the resulting appearance from the damage makes the crop unmarketable. Conventional pesticides are commonly used for control, but their effectiveness is variable, and some studies suggest flea beetles are gaining resistance to some chemicals. Spraying organic compliant pesticides and essential oils are two alternative management strategies that have been studied, again with varied success. This study found that fine mesh row covers outperformed conventional, organic and essential oil sprays in managing flea beetles and increasing crop yield. These results arm organic farmers with another tool in their toolbox to fight pests while also offering a more sustainable and effective solution for conventional farmers as resistance to conventional sprays develops.


Banner Photo and Content Photo Credit: Robert Brockman