Aphthona Accelerator Directions for making the Aphthona Accelerator bug sorter

Sorting flea beetles allows you to remove weed seeds and other debris from your sweep net collections, but is not a requirement. The Aphthona Accelerator requires about an hour of time and $25 to $30 in materials to build. Another advantage is that sorted, or "clean," flea beetles can be easily counted. Sorting & counting makes it easier to keep track of how many flea beetles you are releasing.

Items Required:

For each unit you will require:
1- large tomato cage with 4 rings approximately 14-inch diameter at the top with an 8-inch bottom ring and 42 inches tall
1- small tomato cage with 3 rings approximately 12-inch diameter at the top with a 7-inch bottom ring diameter and 30 inches tall
3- 1/8th inch cable clamps or U bolts and nuts
1- screw top collection jar of plastic, 16 oz. Nalgene or lexan
1- Rubbermaid Serving Saver 3 QT 7 inch exterior diameter (10 cups - 2.4 Liter)
1- wooden ring 3/8 inch x 15 inch diameter with a 7 inch diameter hole in the center ( save hole for second ring)
1- wooden ring 3/8 inch x 6 inch diameter
1- 1/8th inch hardware cloth 12 inches x 22 inches

Additional parts needed:


Where two cages come together



Where the funnel meets the collection jar

Boat glass funnel:

View inside Sorting Basket

Sorting basket:

Collection cup

Final assembly:

Additional information:

You will need tent stakes to hold this unit in place as it is not overly stable.

Operation of the accelerator:

  1. Collect flea beetles by sweeping.
  2. Remove the lid of the sorting basket and deposit the swept material into the sorter. Do not over fill the basket.
  3. After several minutes Aphthona flea beetles will move through the hardware cloth to the interior funnel surface.
  4. Occasionally tap the top of the accelerator to knock the beetles into the collection jar.
  5. Remove and empty the collection jar as it fills no more than ½ full at a time.
  6. Transfer sorted Aphthona to a different container and place them into a cooler to chill them. This makes volumetric measurement much easier. Finally transfer beetles to shipping containers and keep them cool.
Bugs packed for shipping

Additional equipment needed to collect flea beetles:

Volumetric measure


Counting is also relatively easy, and will enable you to know how many flea beetles you are releasing. Plastic 35 mm film containers work great - a film container one-quarter of the way full is about 1,000 flea beetles. Other small containers can also be used, with 10 cc or 10 ml equaling about 1,000 beetles.

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