Colorado Potato Beetle Control & Facts

The Colorado Potato Beetle is found throughout North America today. It was not a scourge of the potato plant until the westward movement in the United States.

When the settlers brought potatoes into the habitat regions of this beetle, and the beetle realized what a delicacy potatoes were, it no longer fed on its regular host plants, preferring the potato instead. They have also become partial to tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and tobacco.

 
 

So... What's a Colorado Potato Beetle?

Adult Colorado potato beetles are approximately 3/8"-1/2" long with rounded bodies and yellow and black striping on their wing covers.

The larvae are approximately 1/8"-1/2" in length and have a reddish coloring with two rows of black dots on each side of its body.

The eggs are found in clusters of 20-40 on the undersides of plant leaves and are yellowish-orange in color.

 

Reproduction Patterns of Colorado Potato Beetles

In the spring, the adult Colorado potato beetle emerges from the soil where it overwintered. The beetles will start walking in search of food, and if after several days, it cannot find any suitable foods, it will take wing and fly until it finds food.

Then after the female beetle has eaten from the leaves, it will lay its eggs in a cluster underneath the leaves of the host plant. The eggs will hatch in about 1-2 weeks, and the larvae will eat the foliage of the host plant.

After eating for 2-3 weeks, and going through several instars, or mini-stages, the larvae will dig into the soil and pupate. In another 5-10 days, the new adults will come out of the soil ready to eat again in preparation for spending the winter in a pupate stage under the soil.

 

Colorado Potato Beetle's Habitat

The Colorado potato beetle is found throughout North America today. It was not a scourge of the potato plant until the westward movement in the United States.

When the settlers brought potatoes into the habitat regions of this beetle, and the beetle realized what a delicacy potatoes were, it no longer fed on its regular host plants, preferring the potato instead. They have also become partial to tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and tobacco.

 

Symptoms of Colorado Potato Beetle Damage

Holes in the leaves of potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and tobacco often are an indication of the presence of the Colorado potato beetle. Plants may begin to wilt as they are infiltrated by this pest.

 

Results of Colorado Potato Beetle Infestation

If left untreated, the plant's leaves may be devoured and the plant's strength and growth will be affected. In addition, young plantings may end up dying while older plants, although they may survive an onslaught, may have a drastically reduced yield.

 

Natural & Organic Controls

What?

Organic controls are can be a very effective method for eradicating these pests. There are products on the market containing insecticidal soaps and pyrethrins that can be used safely when following the directions on the product.

In addition, Azadirachtin is a natural insect growth regulator which is derived from the neem seed. It is a very effective method of controlling the Colorado Potato Beetle.

How?

Insecticidal Soap (Potassium Salts of Fatty Acids) & Pyrethrin - combined are the organic equivalent of a 1-2 knock down punch. The soap will penetrate the insect's shell enough to weaken and dehydrate the insect and allow the pyrethrin to absorb into the insect and do its job.

Pyrethrin is a powerful nerve agent and will paralyze and kill the insect on contact. Keep in mind this soap is not like dish detergent, it's a base from a blend of natural plant sources and pyrethrin oils and comes from the chrysanthemum flower. An effective and organic combination...

Azadirachtin interferes with molting and insects will die. It kills the larval or grub stage of the insect. Use in accordance with directions on the product label.

When?

Spray Insect Soap & Pyrethrin as a contact killer. Use in accordance with directions on the product label.

Apply at the first sign of grub activity. You may need to re-apply Azadirachtin after every 7 days or so to affect newly hatched Colorado potato beetle grubs.

Safer® Brand offers a variety of Colorado potato beetle control products to help control and eliminate this garden pest and revive your plants. Please check out our Colorado potato beetle control products for more details about how they work and how, when and where they should be applied.

If you are concerned about a plant or unsure of how it will react to these solutions, test an inconspicuous area and wait 24 hours before full coverage. As a general rule, much like watering, do not use any liquid insecticides in the peak of the day or when temperatures exceed 90°F.

Why Choose a Natural Solution?

Natural solutions break down quickly into their natural elements. They are preferable to chemical pesticides that leave residuals where they are sprayed causing long-term detrimental affects on the environment.

 

Natural Predators

What?

Birds, frogs and beneficial insects will eat the Colorado potato beetle, but if a fairly large infestation has occurred, these helpful predators will not be present in adequate numbers to control such an infestation.

How?

Birds, frogs and insects eat the beetle as well as the eggs and larvae. You can attract the birds through the presence of birdbaths and birdhouses and the insects by the planting of pollen producing foliage.

When?

Place the birdhouses and birdbaths near the plantings as soon as you can to attract birds. When the weather is favorable for planting pollen producers, immediately plant them to attract beneficial insects as soon as possible. Most local greenhouses and garden centers can help you determine the right time for planting these to ensure that the pollen and nectar will be available when the predators arrive.

 

Environmental Controls

What?

Handpicking of the beetles in small areas with limited infestation may be helpful, but again, for larger infestations, this will not be able to sufficently control the beetles.

Using sturdy, larger plantings that grow rapidly may also help in controlling the presence of the Colorado potato beetle.

How?

Handpicking or hand-brooming the plantings to brush off the beetles may be helpful. When brooming, be sure to do it gently and brush the beetles into a cup of soapy water which can be discarded when finished.

Larger plantings that mature early can be picked early, thereby eliminating a food and egg-laying source for the beetles and larvae. Another possible method is to plant the potatoes later in the season when most of the beetles have left the area.

When?

Hand pick and hand-broom the Colorado potato beetles as soon as you see them. Doing this upon sighting them will help control the population of the beetles.

As soon as the weather in your planting zone allows, begin planting the sturdy, older plantings. If this is not possible, you may want to wait until after the beetles have left, but be sure to use a fast growing variety of potato so it matures before frost arrives.

Safer® Brand brings you a variety of effective insect control products that are gentler on the environment! Most of them proudly display the OMRI Listed® organic seal and comply for use in organic gardening!