There is a natural defence against potato beetle, but it is not easy
Potatoes are already tall and strong and you may have already noticed the first small holes made by non other than the infamous Colorado potato beetle. Unfortunately, this pest is so common, even though it is not a native in Europe, and getting rid of it is not easy at all. First, we shall look at its origin, life cycle and how much harm it can do. We shall also focus on the natural way of elimination as well as on chemicals. Not everyone believes in the natural approach …
Where did the potato beetle come from?
The hated potato bug (Leptinotarsa decemlineata) is one of the pests of potato crops. It came to Europe from America when the World War II was raging on the old continent. That is why the potato bug is also referred to as the American beetle or Colorado beetle.
It is quite simple. The potato bugs climb out of the ground in the spring, because adult bugs buried themselves there the previous year. When they get out, they climb potato plants and lay dark yellow to orange eggs on the underside of leaves. After few days, incredibly voracious red-black larvae hatch. They keep devouring leaves for some 3 weeks and then burry themselves underground to pupate. After that they develop into adult bugs and the cycle repeats again.
”Common bug collecting” works
It may sound awkward, but potato fields should be watched. If you catch the attack in time and remove the eggs under leaves, there is virtually no risk of a disaster. We recommend taking a glass of water and putting the leaves with bugs and larvae in it. Then close the glass, because potato bugs can swim and they could get out, and the enemy has no chance.
There is a natural way, but…
Soap water or coffee grounds (dregs) are recommended but neither of them worked for us. However, the natural enemy of the potato bug is undoubtedly the ladybug and heteroptera, simply known as the red bug. But putting these bugs on your potato plants is very difficult. Another natural enemy is a little bird called partridge, but it is not easy to make this bird to go to your field and eat the bugs. Turkeys are great too but the most interesting “enemy” are Indian runners who often eat these bugs, while running. It is all protein after all…
The chemical approach
We should also mention chemicals because they help a lot. Very popular in Central Europe is Mospilan or Spintor but there are many others.
Gardening is my hobby, I have a lot of experience and I am happy to share it.