The Colorado potato beetle is one of the most destructive garden pests. Despite it’s name you can find these bugs all over the country, and they don’t only feed on potatoes.
Potato beetles chow down on the leaves of potato, pepper and tomato plants. The beetles will not go into the ground and eat growing potatoes; they stick to eating leaves only. Their damage to the leaves hurts the plant’s ability to perform photosynthesis, which in turn affects production of potatoes or fruit. Inspect plants regularly for signs of damage, and remove potato beetles from plants when you see them.
The beetles are generally about 1/8-inch long with alternating black and white stripes. The larvae look like fat orange worms with black spots on both sides of the body. Also be on the lookout for eggs, which you can usually find on the underside of leaves. They will look like a group of small yellow or orange specs, like tiny caviar.
Pesticides are an option for controlling Colorado potato beetles, but most are sold in bulk quantities, which are impractical for use in a small garden plot. Depending on the size of your garden, manual removal of the bugs is the most effective method. Simply pick the beetles or larvae from the plant and drop them into a can that contains a couple inches of soapy water. When you come across eggs, gently tear away the part of the leaf containing eggs and drop that into the oil.
Making a diligent effort to seek out and remove Colorado potato beetles from your plants will help your garden reach its full potential.