Garden Pests – Colorado Potato Beetle

Gardening - Colorado Potato Beetle

The Colorado Potato Beetle is an adult potato bug, which is often found in summer. This pest can damage up to 40% of a potato crop. The Colorado Potato Beetle has red and black bands along its thorax, and its posterior end is highly serrated. It may appear as a small black dot or spot on the underside of a leaf.

The Colorado Potato Beetle is considered an agricultural pest because it damages tubers and roots. The Colorado potato beetle is one of the three major pest insects which destroy potato crops. The other two main insects are the Southern Pest and the Western Pest. These pests also control other green vegetable plants such as lettuce, spinach, mustard, and cattle. The common yellow-and-black striped “potato bug,” a common insect pest to home gardeners, is also the most severe for potatoes. Both the black-and-yellow striped and the red-and-white striped, red-and-black-banded potato beetles feed on red and white leaf surfaces.

There are two methods for controlling this and other potato pests using chemical pesticides. There are organic and commercial insecticides, as well as natural chemical pesticides, for controlling these bugs. Organic pesticides are those that are made from organic materials and do not contain hazardous chemicals. Commercial insecticides are made from synthetic chemicals and are commonly known as pesticides. Natural chemical pesticides, also called herbal insecticides, are products derived from plant extracts.

The most common commercial insecticides are systemic pesticides. They are applied to the entire plant or to the plant roots and stems for killing adults and eggs. They have been proven to be very effective in controlling adult beetles. However, they can be dangerous to the larvae and young children who can be at risk for an accidental reaction to the chemical substance.

The Colorado potato beetles are green in color, with their large, soft bodies sticking up to 5 millimeters. They are oval and cylindrical in shape, with brownish spots on their exteriors. They may appear smooth or bumpy, having hair-like projections that might be seen along their sides. They may have tiny eyes, which may be dark-colored. They have mandibles, which they use to pry off the leaves of the potatoes.

There are commercial insecticides available in the Colorado potato beetle market, but you can also make some safe alternatives. You can try making home-made solutions that are proven effective in controlling them. These include paper towels soaked in one part water and one part vinegar, which must then be applied on the undersides of the plant’s leaves. Vinegar is one natural and non-toxic ingredient that is widely used as a control treatment.

However, applying these methods requires some caution. Potatoes are quite delicate plants, and you should not handle them roughly. For killing the adults, you should either drop the containers by hand or put them on a rack in the refrigerator. This should kill the adults immediately. You can also put the containers on a grill until the insects fall off into the coiled form.

To prevent reinfestation, you should be careful when watering. If the soil gets too wet, you should wait for the water to dry completely before re-trying the plants. However, the best way to get rid of these beetles is through natural means. A natural treatment that uses vinegar and soap powder is known to work quite well. There are several repellents available in the market, but it would be better to find one that contains the effective components of the potato beetle.

Common Names For Colorado Potato Beetle

  • Colorado Potato Beetle
  • Mexican Bean Beetle
  • Bean Leaf Beetle

Scientific Name

  • Leptinotarsa decemlineata (Say)

Garden Plants Affected By Colorado Potato Beetle

  • Beans
  • Peppers
  • Eggplants

How to Control Colorado Potato Beetles

  • Spray or dust with garden safe pesticide when beetles appear, and weekly, as necessary
  • Use yellow sticky traps.  Adult Potato beetles are attracted to the color yellow and can be captured with traps.
  • For eggplant start plant indoors and transplant as large seedlings.
  • Companion planting with Tomatillos

Note

  • Young eggplants are vulnerable to potato beetle attacks.  Look for damage when the first leaves unfold

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