I have some type of insect attacking the eggplant right now. The leaves have lots of tiny holes and a few large holes in them. There are also some translucent spots on the leaves which may later turn into full blown holes.
After a bit of searching around on the Internet, it sounds as if flea beetles may be the culprit. I did not see any bugs or eggs underneath the leaves when checking out the damage. It was a quick look, and I was slightly distracted by the discovery of little spiny thorns on the eggplant stems as this is my first time growing eggplant.
Here is a look at the damage:
It sounds like I have a few options to battle these bugs: nematodes, diatomaceous earth, or pyrethrin . I think I may have some pyrethrin in the garage. I have used nematodes to control carrot flies in the past, but it’s difficult to trust a package that needs to stay cool in transit. I am also interested in trying out diatomaceous earth. But, I think this damage is rather severe and I should probably go with the quickest solution in order to prevent further damage ASAP.
Another item I may have in the garage is neem oil. It was left behind by the previous owners of my old house and managed to get shipped to our new house last year. I have never used it, but it is advertised as a product which should kill adult flea beetles . As for the honeybees, the product page itself says to avoid applications when bees would be visiting that plant. Good to know.
Update: I found a few other good sites discussing neem oil . I decided to mix up a one gallon batch and spray it on the eggplant this morning. I sprayed it fairly heavy, so hopefully I did not overdo it. I also lightly sprayed some on the broccoli, soybeans, and potatoes. The broccoli was mentioned on a few sites so I will give it a try. I saw a Japanese beetle on the potatoes and slapped it away immediately. I should have been more thorough and made sure to capture and kill it because I could not find a dead beetle after I knocked it down. No guarantee that it’s dead. I also though that I saw a cucumber beetle on the soybeans the other day, so I decided to protect that as well. Let’s hope it works!