Colorado Potato Beetle

This beetle is a formidable pest to potatoes and harvesters throughout most of North America.

| January/February 2009

  • Colorado potato beetle
    The Colorado potato beetle is known to defoliate young potato plants.
    courtesy USDA Agricultural Research Service/Scott Bauer

  • Colorado potato beetle

Grow Spectacular Spuds  

The Colorado potato beetle is a formidable pest. This native beetle has spread throughout most of North America. The adults are slow-moving beetles that overwinter in crop debris. Although they can fly, they often walk across fields in the spring to find new potatoes.

Clusters of yellowish-orange eggs hatch into plump reddish-brown larvae that eat leaves with a vengeance. If uncontrolled, the larvae from a single cluster of eggs can defoliate a young potato plant.

As soon as the plants emerge from the soil, I routinely look at the underside of each leaf of every plant for egg masses. I squash these (as well as larvae and adults).

There are many interesting and unusual methods of beetle control, but the following methods are proven to help control the beetle damage.

Rotate crops. Don’t plant potatoes where any nightshade (pepper, eggplant or tomato) has grown in the last four years.

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