These pests (Colorado Potato Beetle) are a well known predator that target potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants and even our prized petunias! They not only thrive on the leaves, but are also known to feast on the fruit. If left unchecked, they will affect your garden’s yield and can kill young, tender seedlings.
You can get a step ahead of the beetles by growing certain plants that repel them (in ideal locations). I’ve listed a few recommendations below along with a section of tips that include recipes for a DIY spray which can be used to help keep these pesky fellows at bay.
There are other insects commonly confused with or misnamed as them, I added those at the bottom with reference links for more information.
How To Spot An Infestation: If you notice leaves with holes or other damage, check underneath. There will be a yellow cluster of eggs or larvae with orange and black. Simply remove the infested part and destroy.
A good resource for pictures of the life cycle along with additional details about this pest can be found here: University of Tennessee (pdf).
These are recommended as being suitable for repelling the beetles, intercrop between potatoes or in the space between rows.
- Bush Beans
- Catnip: Grow these in pots because it can be invasive…downside is that once the neighborhood cats figure out you’ve got the good stuff, you’ll be herding cats (danger diminished in more remote areas rather than city or towns).
- Cilantro (Coriander)
How To Get Rid Of Them
Manual control: Spot check leaves and shake off any that you see (or hand pick each one off but make sure to wear gloves), dispose of immediately by crushing their bodies.
Did you know: Ladybugs consider the larvae a tasty treat, consider growing items in the garden that will attract them so you have a thriving ladybug population (some ideas: Marigolds, Tansy, Fennel and Dill).
Diatomaceous Earth: This is a non-toxic method of pest control, simply dust the plant and surrounding soil with the powder and repeat after each rainfall.
Keep In Mind: The larvae will go underground to pupate and then emerge as adults after 10 days or so, you’ll need to be diligent and continue removal methods until all of these have been dealt with.
Homemade Repellent Teas or Infusions
Here are two different recipes you can try, once they’ve cooled pour into spray bottles and apply as needed (for best results spritz fresh applications after each rain).
- Tansy or Marigold Infusion: Fill a pot with freshly picked tansy (or marigolds), cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and cook until liquid has been halved. Strain, cool and use as needed.
- Wild Mustard Tea: Steep 4 whole cloves, a handful of wild mustard leaves, a clove of garlic in 1 cup of boiling water for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool, then use as spray. Source: Jerry Baker’s Bug Off!: 2,193 Super Secrets for Battling Bad Bugs, Outfoxing Crafty Critters, Evicting Voracious Varmints and Much More!
Here are a couple other insects that are commonly mistaken as potato bugs (with resources to check out):
- Pill Bugs (pillbugs), Roly Polys or Rolly Polly (because they roll up into a ball when aggravated). These guys are attracted to dead vegetation (though they will munch away on healthy, young stuff too). You can try enticing the critters away from the garden by setting out corn cobs and then dispose of them once they gather on the cob. You can find further info on this page (Wikipedia).
- Jerusalem Crickets: Yuck, so ugly! They feed on dead plant matter, you can learn more at (Wikipedia).