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Potato bugs

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I just noticed that I have lots of potato bugs this year. Not sure if it is due to the wet weather recently. What is the best to control them? Thanks.

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Most likely it's the Colorado potato beetle. If you have large numbers of them, they can denude your taters of leaves over several days, so fast action is in order.

If you're organically minded, you can pick them off by hand and drop them in soapy water, or use a shop vac (narrow slot attachment is best) to suck them up. If you do, make sure you get rid of the reddish-yellowish eggs by rubbing them off the undersides of the leaves.

For chemical control, they are very difficult to eliminate completely because they have developed resistance to many insecticides. This is especially true if you live near a potato farm. Most of the typical homeowner insecticides won't give you complete control, and some have pretty much no impact at all. Look for some with the active ingredients azadirachtin or spinosad. Spinosad is the better of the two because it doesn't break down as fast, and also gives better control of full grown adult beetles and the larger larvae. The beetles don't have resistance to these two insecticides. Apply very thoroughly, including leaf undersides.

You can lose up to about 1/3 of the foliage from your taters without sacrificing yield.

When I grew potatoes, I used the shop vac method. Five gallon one, which is easy to maneuver in the garden. Works well, and since most chemicals are iffy control measures in this case, it made a lot of sense to me. Gave the neighbors something to talk about, too. gringrin

Good luck!

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