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Pest Alert

Colorado Potato Beetles have appeared. This is a pest that can easily decimate your potato crop. However, they are relatively easy to control. As taken from a very thorough website I found…

“…the Colorado potato beetle is also a concern for home gardeners.  When [a] garden is limited to a few potato, tomato, or eggplant plants, hand-picking overwintered adults and egg masses early in the season is the simplest management approach. Most damage is done by larvae, so removing their parents and unhatched eggs [by hand] should provide fairly good protection of the plants later in the season. It is no more time-consuming than other gardening practices, does not require expensive purchased inputs, and environmentally friendly. It can also be a relaxing and somewhat therapeutic experience – after all, from the biological point of view we have evolved to be hunters and gatherers, not computer programmers or hedge fund managers.  The picking should be done for several weeks because overwintered beetles [emerge and lay eggs] over approximately one-month time window.”

Colorado Potato Beetle Eggs

Colorado Potato Beetle Eggs

As you can see the eggs are fairly easy to see, although they are on the underside of the leaves so you do have to turn the leaves over to check. I especially like to remove the eggs before they hatch because then there’s no damage, but also the larvae are really gross.

Colorado Potato Beetle Larvae

Colorado Potato Beetle Larvae

I’ve seen some that actually seem to put their feces on their backs as a deterrent to predators. When I find hatched larvae I just prune off the whole leaf they’re on. Luckily, the larvae all stay together as a group (at least on the leaf they hatch on) so they’re easy to see.

2 Responses to “Pest Alert”

  1. Barry Benepe says:

    What do you do with the severed leaves with the attached larvae? Will they die if compacted or return to the vine? If the latter, I assume that they must be bagged and sealed or mashed.

  2. Jay says:

    Sorry about the delay in answering. I get so few comments I forget to check regularly. Anyway, what I do with the leaves is just take them far enough away from the garden that I figure they can’t get back to the garden. I’m sure you could also dump the leaves in soapy water and just let them drown.

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