If you are growing potatoes, you may face the problem of holes in your potato leaves or leaves that are stripped with nothing but the leaf vein remaining. The potatoe beetle is the most common potatoe pest and has the ability to resist most of the insecticides which make most difficult to get rid of it. To unravel the problem, in this article we are going to share some of the methods to control and combat potato beetles.
What are Potatoe Beetles?
Colorado potato beetles (Leptinotarsa decemlineata) are the most common in the garden, which also go by the name of “potato bugs”. The adult potato beetles are (1/3 inch long) round, have a yellow-orange color, black stripes on the wings and a black spot behind head. The larvae are red in color with a black head and legs which becomes orange or yellow-red with two rows of black spots on both sides of the body.
Potatoe Beetle Life cycle
Potato beetles complete 1 to 3 generations each year. The beetle of the bug hibernate in the soil or garden debris and emerge into an adult fly in spring. The beetle at this stage cannot fly and walk to host plants. The female potato bugs lay yellow-orange eggs in groups underside leaves. Eggs hatch in 4 to 15 days the days can vary according to temperature, the larvae of beetle feed on plants up to one month. After they mature, the larvae enters the soil for pupation and emerge into an adult in 5 to 10 days.
Plant damage from Potatoe Beetles
The beetle is resistance to a number of insecticides and its adult and larvae both voraciously feed on host plants. The potato bugs have the capability to defoliate entire plants if not treated properly. The pests can cause immense yield loss and even can kill whole plants. The host other than potato plants is eggplant, peppers and tomato plants.
How to Control and Kill Potatoe Beetles
- Insecticides: Biological pesticides can also be used to prevent potato bugs attack. The biological insecticide containing Beauveria bassiana is an entomopathogenic fungus that is effective against a number of crop pests. The application of insecticide after an interval of the week can be more efficient than chemical pesticides.
- Beneficial nematodes can effectively control the potato bugs in soil. They attack the insects at immature stages and significantly reduce the bugs.
- Spinosad is an insecticide that can be applied on potato bugs infested plants; which can be in early stages.
- Plastic Bag Trench: Creating trenches in a line with plastic bags between the rows of potato is an effective remedy to trap adults. The trenches greater than 46˚ can trap an average 84% of adult potato bugs. Plant resistant cultivars are also common these days to control bugs. Try to shake the plants early morning to get rid of bugs from host plants and dump them in soapy water. After harvest, turn and fold the ground soil and debris to pick up beetles from the soil.
- Straw Mulches are one of the effective techniques to control weeds, conserve water and to control potato bugs. Thick mulches of straw are the better choice to control bugs in comparison to over covers.