Nobody wants creepy bugs and larva crawling all over their homegrown fruits and veggies and causing problems. Garden pests are a danger to our hard work, and our potato plants are in for the most trouble if the Colorado potato beetle infests them. Figuring out how to get rid of potato bugs is critical if you want to protect your root vegetables.
Getting rid of potato bugs isn’t always easy. Frequently, things get out of hand, and the potato beetles become too overwhelming. Try not to panic if this happens to you.
This article contains a list of potato bug killer ideas that are both easy to implement and effective with a bit of persistence.
If you’re going to save your crops, learning everything there is to know about them is the only strategic move for getting rid of the potato beetles for good.
- What are Potato Beetles?
- How to Get Rid of Potato Bugs
What are Potato Beetles?
The Colorado potato beetle is referred to as Leptinotarsa decemlineata in the science world. This group includes a wide range of flea beetles that are pests of the Solanaceae or nightshade family.
You won’t learn how to get rid of potato bugs if you don’t know what they look like. Potato beetles measure under half an inch long and have rigid, oval-shaped bodies.
Their outer wings showcase ten black stripes and an orange head with black spots. When their larva hatch, they have small black heads and soft, red bodies.
Adult beetles are capable of laying over 500 eggs every single month. Most adult potato bugs lay an average of 30 per day. This speedy process leaves home gardens at a significant disadvantage.
The life cycle starts as an egg that is yellow or orange. They are usually placed on the underside of potato leaves. After four to 15 days, the eggs hatch, and the larvae feed on the host plant before moving on to hidden parts of the potato.
Each larva digs beneath the soil after a few days, where they feed on roots and tubers and develop into a pupa before emerging as adults. Even if it’s cold, potato beetles overwinter with the potatoes, and they resume activity as normal.
Before you create your own potato bug killer, it’s essential to know a little bit more about these pests.
Colorado potato beetles are found living in most parts of the United States excluding Alaska, California, Hawaii, and Nevada. You may also find them in parts of Europe and Asia.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, these bugs get their name from their diet that consists mainly of potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant.
How to Get Rid of Potato Bugs
There are several control methods for getting rid of potato bugs. Keep in mind that some may work better than others, depending on how early you caught the infestation and how damaged your plants are.
Spotting Signs of Potato Beetles
The sooner you catch the beetles, the easier it is for you to implement a potato bug killer strategy. Frequently look on the underside of your plant leaves, at the base of the plants, and even under the mulch.
The eggs of potato beetles are usually bright orange. Younger beetles have a bright red shell and ridges on their back. Look for black spots and stripes on their bodies as well.
If you see any of these, you need to start brainstorming ways to free yourself from them and save your plants from being killed or having a poor yield. You’ll know when potatoes are bad just by looking at them.
Getting Rid of Potato Bugs
Bacillus thuringiensis is one form of pest control that is non-toxic. It is a bacteria that works like insecticides and poisons the bugs. The best thing about this bacteria is that it doesn’t harm plants, humans, or pets.
It is sometimes even a beneficial addition to your garden beds. There is both a liquid and powder form available. The powdered form is equally effective as the liquid form. Follow all instructions on the container’s label to ensure you are using it properly.
Using Azadirachtin Spray on Potato Bugs
Azadirachtin is a chemical compound commonly found in neem seeds. The compound is extracted from the seeds and turned into a garden spray.
All you have to do is mindfully follow the directions to dilute the concentrate and apply it directly to your plants. The beetles and their larvae should disappear after a few applications.
Because azadirachtin comes from neem seeds, neem oil is another clever way to get rid of potato bugs naturally. Most people spray some of the oil around their garden as natural pesticides for tomatoes and potatoes to eliminate pests.
Spinosad sprays are another organic insecticide that is safe for both you and your plants. It doesn’t just get rid of potato beetles either.
Spinosad sprays work on worms, thrips, ants, leaf miners, and other common pests. The product is created through fermentation, where spinosad appears as a natural substance. It’s great for killing earwigs, spiders, and more.
A Natural Potato Bug Killer
It’s okay if you prefer to steer clear of sprays of any sort. There are even better methods for getting rid of potato bugs. Introducing beneficial insects that are also natural predators to these beetles is one of the quickest ways to handle the problem.
Ladybugs should be your first line of defense against these intruders. Ladybugs eat the eggs off the plant leaves and help keep outbreaks to a minimum. On top of eating the beetles, they enjoy snacking on dangerous aphids as well.
If you are unable to find any ladybugs, try introducing lacewings to your garden bed. Lacewings also enjoy eating the beetle eggs, and the adult beetles are going to keep a reasonable distance if they see some of these hanging around.
Removing Potato Beetles by Hand
If you’re brave and don’t let a few bugs intimidate you, the fastest way to remove them is to get rid of them by hand.
Of course, you can’t just flick them off and hope they don’t return. There is a two-ingredient secret that keeps the ones you pick from ever returning.
Fill an old bucket with water and add a few drops of regular dish soap. Use a large serving spoon to slosh the water around and take it out to your garden beds.
Put on your gloves and carefully remove the beetles from each of your potato varieties, dropping them into the bucket of soapy water as you move down the sides. Make sure all of the bugs stop moving before discarding them into a safe place.
Crops that Keep Potato Bugs Away
The only true way to fight nature is with more nature. Plants like catnip, sage, and tansy are good options for deterring beetles and other pests and can help with potato problems and diseases.
Be careful if you do make the choice to plant them. Catnip and tansy spread quickly and are capable of taking over an entire area if you don’t keep them in check.
Another good planting option is chrysanthemums. These are both beautiful and efficient because they contain pyrethrin. Pyrethrin is a compound found naturally in chrysanthemums, but most companies remove it and turn it into a pesticide spray.
Diatomaceous earth quickly becomes the best friend of someone who is dealing with infestations either inside or outside their houses.
This powder is made from super-fine shells and isn’t harmless to humans or animals. Instead, the insects walk over the sharp edges that cut the bodies of the bugs and encourage them to stay away.
Crop Rotation to Prevent Potato Bugs
The most significant preventative action for getting rid of potato bugs is crop rotation and use the proper depth to plant potatoes. Some of the bugs may still remain under the soil with last year’s potato patch as potatoes overwinter.
The weather warms, and soon, the bugs are back and active once more. If you continue to grow potatoes in the same spot, you’ll never keep them out of your garden.
Try making access to your potatoes as hard as possible, so they know your crops aren’t an easy meal.
Installing Row Covers
Thankfully our world is full of products that were designed to fix almost every problem we come across. Potato bugs are not more intelligent than us, so it shouldn’t take much to make their straight shot to our veggies more difficult.
Row covers were created to keep beetles and other garden pests out of your beds. Some have to be installed, while others gracefully drape over your plants. No matter what one you go with, this is another genius option when learning how to get rid of potato bugs.
It’s impossible to avoid every single bug that finds its way into our garden. Even though we welcome some, there are a lot of other ones that have the potential to wreak havoc on our crops and ruin our yearly yields.
Using a potato bug killer from this list is one of the most innovative ways to ensure you take back control of your garden and show the pests that you’re not one to mess with.
If learning how to get rid of potato bugs has saved your crops, share these methods on getting rid of potato bugs on Facebook and Pinterest.