University of Illinois

No. 6/May 1, 1998

Controlling Flea Beetles with Insecticides Applied at Planting Time?

With concern about the mild winter fostering survival of flea beetles and the bacteria that cause Stewart's wilt (refer to Bulletin issue no. 4, April 17, 1998), some folks might be interested in preventing the problem from occurring by applying an insecticide at planting time. Although this could be considered an appropriate management tactic for susceptible sweet corn and seed corn inbreds, we do not recommend applying a soil insecticide to control a potential infestation of flea beetles in commercial field corn. Although a planting-time application of Counter CR is labeled for control of corn flea beetles (terbufos, the active ingredient in Counter, is systemic), we do not recommend the use of Counter CR specifically for control of flea beetles. If some growers derive flea-beetle-control benefits from the application of Counter for control of rootworms, that's fine. However, we do not recommend preventive treatment of commercial field corn specifically for control of flea beetles. Scouting and timely decision making is a better payoff.

Kevin Steffey ( and Mike Gray (, Extension Entomology, (217)333-6652