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11 Natural Ways to Get Rid of Colorado Potato Beetle (Potato Bug)

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13 Natural Ways to Get Rid of Colorado Potato Beetles (Potato Bugs)

Once you spot one adult, the fight is on. Colorado potato beetles are known simply as potato bugs.

They are a challenging pest to deal with, causing much damage to potato crops [1]. The larvae are voracious feeders, responsible for much more damage than adults.

The estimated loss of crops by some commercial and large-scale growers is tremendous. As a result, we’ve going to talk about how to get rid of potato bugs and their larvae.

Life Cycle

The Colorado potato beetle is active in mating and breeding with one to three reproductive generations per growing season.

The female potato bug can lay up to 500 eggs in one month [2], and these eggs hatch within a time span of 4 to 10 days.

The larvae pass through four instars, getting bigger with each growth stage, and then, they pupate for 5 to 10 days underground. Once they turn into adults, the cycle starts again.

To prevent a full-scale infestation and the resultant decimation of your crops, it’s best to be prepared, taking the initiative.

How to Get Rid of Colorado Potato Beetles Naturally 

Before heading for store-bought pesticides, try some of these home remedies and organic approaches to repelling the critters.

1. Crop Rotation

Rotation of seasonal crops is a simple method for getting rid of potato bugs.

Due to the overwintering habits of the beetle, you should move your potatoes and other affected crops somewhere else in the garden every season.

2. Row Covers

These cover sheetings are used to protect against vicious attacks, prevent them from getting on your plants after reaching adulthood, and are ready to devour your plants.

Made mainly of heavy screens, air and water will get to the seedlings, but they should be removed when flowers start forming or they won’t get pollinated.

3. Companion Planting

Using plants as a means of deterring pests is a manner of planning.

Some plants can take over an area so it’s best to consider your options and know just how much time you’ll be spending to tend to the garden before you plant.

Companion plants include:

  • Sage
  • Tansy
  • Coriander aka Cilantro
  • Marigolds
  • Catnip

4. Soap and Water

You can also use soapy water to kill potato bugs in the garden. All you need is 2 tablespoons of liquid soap in a gallon of water. Some people use Dawn dish soap; however, we recommend using organic liquid soap.

Shake well and use it to spray the beetles and their larvae. This soap mixture will suffocate and kill the critters if sprayed directly on them.

5. Mulch

Mulching will not only help with the plant’s growth, but it will also help attract the insects which feed on the beetle.

Straw is one of the most popular and effective types of mulch but others will work just as well.

6. Handpicking

Disgusting but also a pretty foolproof method that kills potato bugs naturally.

Simply put on a pair of gloves and pick off the bugs, checking the underneath of leaves where they and their young ones like to hide.

Either squish them underfoot or throw them into a pail of soapy water.

7. Trap Crops

In addition to using companion plants to deter the beetles, there’s also the tactic of using plants to draw them away from your vegetable garden.

While potato bugs prefer potatoes, they will also eat several other plants such as tomatoes, buffalo bur, peppers, and ground cherries.

8. Beneficial Insects

There are some insects that love eating beetles, and they can easily keep the pests from decimating your potatoes.

Among the potato beetle predators are:

  • Ladybugs
  • Predatory Stink Bugs
  • Green Lacewings
  • Parasitic Wasps
  • Damsel Bugs (eat eggs and nymph)
  • Birds

A little research will enlighten you as to which good guys are native to or can be raised in your area, and the best approach to entice them to your garden.

9. Vinegar

The acidity of the vinegar will kill potato bugs and all kinds of bad plant insects.

Therefore, combine one cup of vinegar, one teaspoon of liquid soap, and three cups of water in a spray bottle. Shake well and use it to spray your plants to kill nymphs and adults.

10. Destroy Eggs

The critters lay their eggs underneath the leaves of their target plants. Check every leaf for a blaze of orange babbles (the eggs) and then destroy that leaf!

Eggs can mature in 4 to 5 days, so once you see an adult, start looking for the eggs! Finally, burn the leaf or drown it in an insecticide to kill the eggs.

11. Diatomaceous Earth

This white powder will kill all kinds of insects when placed at the base of target crops where they find their way into the soil to pupate. Diatomaceous earth will prevent this stage and the larvae will die sooner or later.

You can also make a homemade diatomaceous earth spray to get rid of the critters. For this killer recipe, mix 1 part DE with 4 parts water.

Use this DIY Colorado potato beetle spray to coat your plants and spray in crevices around your house. However, use the food-grade version to get rid of potato bugs in the home.

12. Spinosad

One of the best organic insecticides for potato bugs, spinosad works to paralyze the nervous system of the larvae as well as mature bugs. It eventually cripples and kills them.

This killer spray solution is also toxic to bees, so do not apply it to blooming plants.

13. Neem Oil

This oil is an extract from neem seed and is a great organic potato beetle control home remedy. Moreover, neem oil is great for killing many other bad insects organically.

Using concentrated solutions or the oil combined with water and tossed in a spray bottle, apply liberally to the insects wherever you find them.

This natural Colorado potato bug spray coats the insects and eggs and kills them.

Note: there are two kinds of this product on the market: Azadirachtin and Clarified Hydrophobic Extract. Only the Azadirachtin will put down the Colorado bug, so confirm before buying.

Identification

The Colorado beetle gets its name from its most-loved plant, the potato, but it’s also known by other names due to its coloring.

Adults have black heads with orange marks, round vibrant orange and/or yellow exoskeletons, and ten black stripes.

These stripes are what give it the nicknames of ten-lined potato beetle and ten-striped spearman.

Takeaway

All of the control methods mentioned above are safe to be used around your family, pets, and organic agriculture as a whole.

This said, make certain you wear a protective face covering when applying the DE, even if it is food grade.

The dust can still make you sneeze or cough. The rest are as eco-friendly as you can ask for.

Image via commons.wikimedia.org/Adámozphoto

Sasha Brown

Blogger and lover of all things natural.

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