About Potato Bugs
Colorado potato bugs are so ubiquitous in home gardens that they’re simply referred to as “potato bugs.” If natural control techniques are not used, both the adult and larval forms devour leaves and can fully defoliate an entire crop. Adults are spherical, yellowish-orange bugs with black stripes and black dots of 1/3 inch all over the body. They are red with black head and legs and the plump larvae (1/8 to 1/2 inch long) become yellowish-red or orange with two rows of black markings on either side of the body.
Beetles emerge in the spring. They don’t have the energy to fly at this moment, so they must stroll in search of appropriate host plants. Females deposit orange-yellow eggs on the undersides of leaves in clusters. The larvae begin eating on vegetation for up to a month after hatching, which takes 4-15 days. When they reach maturity, they drop off the plant, penetrate the earth, and pupate, emerging 5-10 days later as adults. Each year, there are one to three generations. Their feeding has the potential to drastically diminish output and, in some situations, even kill plants. Tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant are examples of alternate host plants.
They can be found in groups eating on potato leaves. Infestations are mainly contained within fields, therefore treating the entire field is rarely required. They eat immature potato leaves as well as the foliage of other host plants like eggplant, tobacco, and tomato. After mating, the female starts laying eggs right away. The adults and larvae can partially or completely damage their host plant’s leaves. Potatoes are the primary food source for potato bugs. They can also harm plants that grow in the night shadows.
When potatoes are in the vegetative stage, they can normally withstand up to 30% defoliation. Leaflets feature holes of varied sizes because of feeding, which generally start towards the edges. The veins and petioles of the leaf blades are frequently devoured, leaving a skeleton of veins and petioles left. Defoliation occurs because of this. Vine damage causes yield loss owing to a lack of foliage to assist tuber growth, as well as tuber misshaping. Plants may be stunted as a result of severe injury.
In the absence of potato plants, potato bugs will hunt for alternative hosts when they first emerge in the spring. Clean up weeds like nightshade and ground cherry that are growing near your garden since they might be a food source. To avoid much of the harm caused by adults appearing in July, plant an early maturing cultivar. In tiny gardens, handpicking can be successful.