Submitted by Glenn Ahrens, OSU Extension Forester, Clackamas, Marion & Hood River Counties

Alder flea beetles are particularly active this summer as they go about their business of skeletonizing leaves on red alder trees. I have seen this come and go over the years, and generally flea beetles are not a serious threat. Flea beetle flare-ups in the forest usually run their course after 2-3 years, after which their population crashes – similar to western tent caterpillar infestations. Healthy alder trees with good vigor are usually not seriously affected. Stressed alder trees – particularly those in dense thickets – may die after 2-3 consecutive years of flea beetle infestation. If you like your red alder trees and want to promote “good vigor” the best way is to 1) avoid growing alder on poor alder sites and 2) keep trees well-spaced to ensure large healthy crowns.

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2 thoughts on “Flea beetles skeletonize red alder leaves

  1. I’ve got MILLIONS of these things in my trees. All of the alders on my 3 acres are completely devoid of leaves. They are getting into our house, cars, and landscaping.

    If it was one or two trees, I’d think of spraying. But is there any bug, bird, frog, anything that can keep these things under control?

  2. Ben, I don’t know what insects, birds or other animals are specific predators of alder flea beetles. But, to encourage natural enemies of the beetles to keep their population in check, it would be a good idea to minimize the use of insecticides around your property. I know the larvae are gross when they get everywhere. Hang in there, they won’t be around much longer.

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