Vegetables and Fruit forum: Potato leaf pest

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Name: Cindy
Hobart, IN zone 5
aka CindyMzone5
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
Shadegardener
Jun 23, 2016 7:52 AM CST
Newbie potato grower here. I have a tiny dark brown, oblong-shaped pest eating holes in my potato leaves. The holes started out as tiny brown spots on the leaves and are now developing into irregular holes. I'm growing in Smart Pots and the damage is 2 1/2 to 3 feet off the ground. It's been hot and dry up until last night when we had rain. I checked this morning and the little pests are still on the leaves. Is this a major concern?
Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
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tveguy3
Jun 25, 2016 6:48 PM CST
Do you have some pictures of them? That would help. Smiling
I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion. - Alexander the Great
Name: Cindy
Hobart, IN zone 5
aka CindyMzone5
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
Shadegardener
Jun 26, 2016 7:32 AM CST
Tom - no pics, I'm afraid. Best I can describe is that they have a shiny body - shell? - and they scurry to the underside of the leaf when they sense a presence. I'm assuming (maybe incorrectly) that they stay on the underside of the leaf most of the time. Maybe why I couldn't see the pest causing the brown dots on the leaves early on. I've not really noticed this damage to other plants - tomatoes, perennials, roses - in the vicinity.
Name: Christine
North East Texas (Zone 7b)
Charter ATP Member Birds Organic Gardener Native Plants and Wildflowers Winter Sowing Herbs
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wildflowers
Jun 26, 2016 10:17 AM CST
Those bugs do seem to know how to hide. It sounds a lot like flea beetles. They will cause damage like you are describing and they are attracted to plants in the Solanum family = potato, tomato and eggplant.

Does it looks something like this? http://whatseatingmygarden.blogspot.com/search/label/flea%20...
** If you scroll down a little way passed the tomato plants, it shows flea beetles on potato leaves.
May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day --Native American Proverb

[Last edited by wildflowers - Jun 26, 2016 11:41 AM (+)]
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Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
Irises Vegetable Grower Butterflies Region: Wisconsin Keeps Horses Cat Lover
Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry Daylilies Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Image
tveguy3
Jun 26, 2016 11:16 AM CST
The most common pest here on potatoes is the Potato Beetle, but they are larger then you're describing, and they are stripped. You might try to google images of "Insects that eat potatoes" and see what gets you.
I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion. - Alexander the Great
Name: Cindy
Hobart, IN zone 5
aka CindyMzone5
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
Shadegardener
Jun 27, 2016 7:40 AM CST
Thanks so much for the help! Wildflowers - thanks for that link! What I have sure looks like flea beetles. I wondered about flea beetles but have never dealt with them before. Maybe they've always been here but at a lower population. And yes - they are quick to hide! Usually I see fewer pests when growing in containers but this is my first attempt at growing potatoes. I'll leave them alone for now but will watch them closely.
Name: Christine
North East Texas (Zone 7b)
Charter ATP Member Birds Organic Gardener Native Plants and Wildflowers Winter Sowing Herbs
Critters Allowed Dog Lover Cat Lover Keeper of Poultry Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Composter
Image
wildflowers
Jun 27, 2016 11:15 AM CST
Glad you like the link. I was checking out that little bug vacuum myself. Hilarious! My problem with flea beetles is usually on the leaves of eggplants which almost always look like lace by the time they're done.
May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day --Native American Proverb

Name: Cindy
Hobart, IN zone 5
aka CindyMzone5
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
Shadegardener
Jun 27, 2016 12:09 PM CST
Gosh - I'm hoping my potato foliage will start dying back before that happens. I have Azamax that I could spray but would have to look up the effect on flea beetles (if any). I think I may have on of those little electronics vacuums here that might suffice.

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