The flea beetles started early this year, attacking my eggplant seedlings while they were still being hardened off in the seedling tray. Those buggers were impatient this Spring!
The common signs of flea beetles are pin-size holes on the leaves of plants. The bugs themselves are tiny little black specks that could be mistaken for dirt on the leaves. They love the young tender leaves that are just emerging from the plants, and will mow them down in a day if left to their business.
I had to use Sevin on them again this year.
I don't feel so bad about it this year though, as I have been quite fortunate to have avoided pest issues with my other crops. I was in the Tractor Supply Store the other day purchasing a fungicide for the tomatoes when an older gentleman came in asking for Sevin dust. He wanted a big bag of it too. He was wearing office attire, so I knew he wasn't a career farmer, so I asked him what he was planning to nuke with a big bag of Sevin. He told me that he had a large garden and that it was being eaten up by a myriad of insects. His lettuce had been mostly devoured and the radish crop was lost entirely. The bugs were moving in on his warm weather crops and he wanted to save them. I told him of my woes with flea beetles and eggplant and he laughed, saying that eggplant were insect attractors, and if anything was going to get infested, it would be those plants! I felt better knowing that my options were limited with the eggplant and that Sevin was maybe OK in this instance.
I wonder how organic farmers grow eggplant - maybe they use grow tents. That might be a bit excessive for 12 plants in my case, so I guess I'll just keep compromising my principles and spray the buggers down.