The Q&A Archives: Borers on Potato Tubers

Question: I found as I dug potatoes today a two-inch voracious insect
feeding on the tubers. They ate about a one-inch hole and
then proceeded to eat another area on the same or different

The insect has two 1/4 inch antenna-like projections on its
abdomen, vestigial wings on the thorax, and a nasty looking
sort of reddish-brown head with chewing mouthparts. It
really has made a mess on many of my potatoes. Do you know
what it is and whether it can be controlled?

Answer: If your spuds are being attacked by worms, you should plant them in a different garden spot next year (to avoid re-infestation). The larvae of many ground-dwelling beetles find potatoe tubers quite tasty. There aren't any soil treatments to get rid of the larvae, because they live several inches below the surface. You can try tilling the soil once or twice in the fall to expose the worms to weather and predators, and tilling again in the spring prior to planting. The best defense is to grow your potatoes in another garden spot next year, and to cover the foliage with floating row covers to keep adult beetles from laying eggs near your plants.

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