The Potato Bug also Known as...the Colorado Potato Beetle
....the Potato Beetle
Whatever you call them potato bugs, or Colorado potato beetles, have to be dealt with. These pests feed on potato leaves and will destroy the potato plants and spoil your hoped-for harvest.
The Colorado potato beetle is a frequent invader of potato crops. This potato bug is approximately 10 mm (0.4 inches) long, has a bright yellow/orange body highlighted with 5 dark brown or black stripes along the length of each of its front wings.
Colorado beetles occasionally attack tomatoes and eggplants however are most destructive to potato crops.
In cold weather adult potato beetles are dormant under garden or field refuse. In the U.S. they emerge sometime in spring depending on the temperature and moisture conditions. They look for plants on which to feed, then they mate and lay eggs. When the larvae hatch they also begin feeding on the potato plants. Even if the infestation stays confined to a small area of a garden or field the potato bugs will do much damage. They will often kill entire rows of potato plants.
A couple of other potato bugs or potato pests include:
- Flea beetles: shiny, black, beetles that you may not notice because of their small size (1/16 inch). They jump quickly from plants when disturbed. Flea beetles will attack cabbage plants, eggplant, radishes, spinach, sweet corn, turnip and potatoes. Evidences of their infestation are holes in potato plant leaves white streaks in foliage. You may also notice wilting and dying of potato plant leaves. The result will be a decreased yield.
- Leafhoppers: these pests are up to 3/8 inch long, green in color, and wedge-shaped. They attack beans, carrots, cucumbers, potatoes, and canteloupe. You will know you have leafhopper damage when you see curled or crinkled foliage and "hopper burn" (caused by leafhoppers' feeding,) and shows up as brown edges on potato plant leaves.
Controlling Potato Bugs
Potato bugs are often resistant to sprays so other methods of control are sometimes more effective.
- In a small potato patch, the potato bugs can be picked off and destroyed by hand.
- Clean up garden debris to eliminate breeding spots.
- Avoid planting potatoes in the same spot every year.
- Introduce some natural enemies of the potato beetle, such as the ladybug, to your garden.
- If you feel the need to use chemicals, consult with a garden store or agricultural expert.
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