Fighting the Colorado Potato Beetles

My conviction is that the reason why these bugs are such a nuisance and a problem is the use pesticides instead of trying to control them organically. Pesticides kill 10 percent of the bad insects but it kills 90 percent of the good ones who hunt the good insects and as a result you are killing 9 of the good folks and 1 of the bad folks, thus causing the populations to decrease and make the situation worse for the times ahead.
I haven’t put my research into practice yet, so I say that this is my conviction. When I try it next year, I will update this post.
What I think you should do is design your land in such a way that it harbors beneficial insects, and also birds. This is really important if you want to get rid of pests. I will list the things I have learned about how to fight the Colorado Beetle, and you can tell me what you think about it in the comments.

1. Interplanting:
Interplanting potatoes with garlic, onion, mint, tansy(tanacetum), sage(salvia oficinalis), catnip(nepeta cataria), will confuse the potato beetle.

2. Keep the size small! The larger the field, the less diversity there is. You should mimic nature and nature loves diversity. Monoculture is not a good practice at all, and it causes problems such as these potato beetles.
Put your potato crops in multiple places instead of just one. This way you can cover them easily during insect migrations with row covers, and it will be much harder for nearby potato beetles to come to your land. Also, you will have more chance to try what works better. If there are big potato fields near you, it will be easier for them to find your potato plot. Keep it small and unnoticeable. Camouflage your potatoes’ smell. Cover them up. Bring in the predators. Make it undesirable.
2. Mulching will keep your potatoes roots cool, and also invite large foliage ground beetles (carabidae) which will prey on the unwanted stuff. It also fertilizes the soil. Mulching then, is a very important practice. Also, stop bothering the soil to make hills to protect the potatoes. “No-tilling” method is both better and easier.

  • cutworms
  • Leafhoppers
  • potato psyllid
  • nymphs of whitefly

3. Crop rotation: The beetles hide under the ground to overwinter. If you don’t want them to come out and start feeding, change the location of your crops. This will make it harder for them the next season.
4. Remove the eggs and beetles manually. I am yet to find a fast method for doing this. But if you let them infest your potato field, you will have to resort to pesticides. That’s one of the reasons to keep your potato operations small. Grow many different things instead of growing a lot of potatoes. Monoculture out, polyculture in.
Other pests of the potato crops include: cutworms, leafhoppers, potato psyllid, and nymphs of whitefly. I have not noticed damage from these yet to my crops, so I don’t know how severe it may be. But the most annoying pest seems to be the colorado beetle. Ladybugs, lacewings and others eat the eggs

5. Trap cropping: Another thing you can do is to cover most of your potato crops and leave some of them on the outside (still camouflaged, you don’t want to attract them) so that even if they find your potatoes they will be drawn to the easier targets, and you can exterminate them there and then. It will be easier for you to control them without having to check every crop one by one. This technique that I have come up with should save you a sea of troubles.
I will put all of these things to use the next year hopefully, and update you on the results. This year, we had a terrible potato beetle invasion, and no matter how scrupulously I went about picking them up and killing them along with their eggs (murderous business) I was not able to stop them.
That’s it for now. If you have any ideas, or comments, please leave them below and I will make sure to write back. Thanks for reading. Stay natural!

Published by paulnewtman

Online English/Spanish/Russian/Serbo-Croatian/Turkish teacher, musician, junior programmer, translator/interpreter/captioner, permaculture farmer. A pacifist and a thorough-going believing agnostic.

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