On a warm Winter day I saw this cool creature (with a drop of water on its back) hanging out in my rock garden. ”Flea Beetle” is a general name applied to the small, jumping beetles of the leaf beetle family. They are similar to other leaf beetles, but characteristically have hindlegs that are greatly enlarged. These oversized femora allow for the springing action of these insects when disturbed.
While they can jump, they also walk normally and fly. Many are attractively colored; dark, shiny and often metallic colors prevail. They tend to be small, and at one quarter of an inch, this is one of the larger species.
The Vians Flea Beetle is found in the United States from the Rocky Mountains to the Atlantic coast. In Canada the species ranges from the Northwest Territories to Nova Scotia and areas southward.
During adverse weather conditions (like rain) they seek shelter in the soil. Flea beetles overwinter as adults in leaf litter, hedgerows, windbreaks and wooded areas. In early spring, the adults become active again.
Pink Smartweed is their most common food plant, but Vians Flea Beetles have also been collected on members of other plant families too. It was a nice Winter surprise to encounter this tiny, but cool creature.