The potato bug, or Colorado potato beetle, feeds on potato foliage as well as other crops, including peppers, tomatoes and eggplants. These hunchbacked yellow-and-black striped beetles are one of the most serious pests to potatoes because they have the ability to completely defoliate plants and, in severe cases, kill off the crop. Potato bugs become resistant to chemical controls, but if you use natural practices, you can fight off these harmful insects without damaging your plants.
Inspect the tops and bottoms of leaves for the potato bugs as well as their larvae, which are reddish-orange with two rows of black dots on both sides. Handpick these insects off your plant and dispose of them.
Cut away infested foliage and remove it so it no longer contacts your growing plants. Getting rid of these infected leaves keeps the potato bugs from moving to other crops.
Apply rye straw or wheat to the base of your plants. This natural mulch attracts predators of the potato bug, such as ground beetles and green lacewings, that eat the egg and larvae stages of this pest.
Rotate your crops each growing season so they do not grow in the same place twice. This way, the new plants grow in an area where insects have not had the chance to lay their eggs.
Things You Will Need
- Pruning shears
- Row covers
- Rye straw or wheat mulch