The Potato Beetle
The Colorado Potato Beetle is one of the most common pests affecting potato fields and crops, as well as the nightshade family or solanaceous plants.
Today, we’ll be talking about how to identify these Colorado potato bugs and how you can prevent and control potato beetles if they turn up in your vegetable and home gardens.
Let’s get started!
Identifying the Potato Beetle
The colorado potato beetle populations (Leptinotarsa decemlineata), also known as:
- Colorado beetle
- Ten-striped spearman
- Ten-lined potato beetle
- Potato bug,
is a striped beetle species known for their 10 characteristic narrow black stripes on their bright orange yellow bodies, they also have yellowish-white wing covers.
They grow 6–11 mm (0.24–0.43 in) in length and 3 mm (0.12 in) in width.
In the Colorado potato beetles appear to have a 9-segmented abdomen, a hard shell, black head, rows of black spots, and prominent spiracles. It may measure up to 15 mm (0.59 in) in length.
In the young Colorado Striped Potato Beetle larval stage when they hatch, they are brick red with black heads. Older large larvae are pink to salmon colored with black heads. All large and small larvae have rows of dark spots on each side of the body.
Host Plants for the Potato Beetle
A potato beetle’s traditional food source are buffalo bur plants. However, they have acquired a taste for potato plants.
They also enjoy feeding on black nightshades or solanaceous crops, such as:
Both adult beetles and colorado potato beetle larvae, or CPB larvae for short, can cause significant damage to their host plants. They lay eggs in clusters on the undersides of the leaves. They are general defoliators which means they are mainly the cpb adults who feed on the plant’s leaves and underside of leaves and wipe them out. That’s why getting on top of and controlling potato beetles is crucial.
When left unchecked, potato beetles can reduce the yield of infected crops. However, once the leaves are spent, they can move on to plant stems and exposed tubers. That’s why knowing how to get rid of potato beetles and knowing the best tips for colorado potato beetle control is essential for your garden.
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Managing Potato Beetles in the Garden
A key thing to remember about potato beetles is that they have the ability to develop strong insecticide resistance. This makes it difficult getting rid of potato beetles. However, there are certain techniques you can try.
As with any kind of pest in the garden, your best move is to protect your old and young plants from these bugs before they can start causing any potato beetle damage. So it’s good to watch out for their orange-yellow eggs. This way you can act fast.
Here’s how you can prevent potato beetles from feeding on your crops:
- Practice crop rotation. Don’t grow a potato crop on the same plot of land every year. Adult Colorado potato beetles tend to overwinter in the soil, so if you plant in the same spot, you’re just giving them convenient access to your crops.
- Use floating row covers. This lets in sun and rain but keeps out any insect pests that are on the outside of the cover.
- Try companion planting to deter potato beetles. Try plants such as catnip, tansy, and sage.
- Use straw mulch. This kind of mulch can attract beneficial insects such as ground beetles, ladybugs, and green lacewings, all of which are natural enemies and predators of the Colorado potato beetle.
- Be mindful of the varieties you plant. Consider planting Russet Burbank potatoes which are resistant to potato beetles. You can also try growing Yukon Gold or Caribe potatoes, which are varieties that you can harvest before these bugs can do any real damage.
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If your potato plants are already infested with beetles, don’t worry because you still have a chance of saving them.
As soon as you see evidence of potato beetles, you can start manually hand picking or removing them from your entire plants and throwing them in a container filled with soapy water. You can also use a hand vac to remove new adults, larvae, and orange-yellow Colorado potato beetle eggs from your crops.
You can also try applying 100% Cold Pressed Neem oil to your plants for potato beetle treatment. Mix 2 tablespoons Neem Oil for potato beetles to a gallon of water with a squirt of dish soap and mix well. Then spray the affected plants with the Colorado potato beetle spray once every 3 days to a week until the problem is resolved.
Always test any solution of homemade bug spray for vegetable plants, herbs, and flowers as well as store purchased before using them on your plants. You don’t want to have an adverse effect and hurt the plant.
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