The Q&A Archives: Potato Beetles

Question: Where do potato bugs come from and how do I get rid of them?

Answer: Colorado Potato Beetles can be a big problem if you don't get them early. They come from the female beetle that lays her eggs on the potato plants almost as soon as they emerge. Inspect your plants every few days. If you find orange eggs on the undersides of the leaves, squish them. Crush any adults you find. If you do this diligently early in the season, you can often control the pest. If you miss some and the eggs hatch, spray the potato plants with BT 'San Diego' or M-1, a strain of BT bacteria that is safe to use in the garden. Remember that minor damage by the beetles won't harm your potato crop.<br> <br>Growing potatoes with a thick layer of straw mulch seems to discourage the pest. Also, I found that Colorado potato beetles seem to love tomatilla plants, so I plant a few every year as a "trap" crop. I just inspect these few tomatilla plants daily and destroy any larva I find, and, so far, it's kept the pest under control with no spraying.

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