joed2323
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Losing the battle to potato bugs

All season its been a battle with these bugs, im on the verge of ripping them out of the ground or cutting them off at the stem and throwing them all in my fire pit as the fire it raging just so i can watch all these darn beetles burn to death!!!

My potatos were doing awesome for the first month or so, they reached 2-3 feet tall, were so perfect looking, then the beetles came from nowhere, at first it was a few, and me and my younger kids would smash them all, we kept up the battle and won in the beginning. But after awhile i had to turn to neem oil, i was told to use this by a few diff gardeners.

I must say the neem oil did absolutely nothing... I diluted it down into spray bottles, and sprayed the heck out of my 20 foot row of potatoes... Then it rained hard. so the next day sprayed heavely again... I did not see much changed what so ever. sprayed again, repeat. Now we have had temps pretty much in the lower 90s for the past week or two. And the beetles have destroyed most of my plants. Its sad, before all you can see is foilage, now i can look straight through and see the soil...

So as of now, i can pretty much say i lost this battle, my plants can not recover in my eyes...
Maybe i have enough time to cut my losses and plant something else in the space before frost??? any ideas?

So the potato beetle only eats the leaves correct, they don't harm the patatoes?what i mean is they are still edible??

Im sure im sacrificing potato size by pulling them, i dug down i little and was quite surprised by seeing the size of one of them, so...

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rainbowgardener
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Re: loosing the battle to potato bugs

Say some more about what kind of bug you have -

there are things called potato bugs, that are also called jerusalem cricket. They are big and ugly and in the family with grasshoppers etc, though not a true cricket:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerusalem_cricket

Apparently potato bug is also a name used at times for what is other wise known as pillbug, roly-poly, wood louse.

In both cases they mainly only eat dead, decaying matter. The jerusalem crickets can burrow and can eat the tubers. If something is eating the leaves of your plants, I would keep checking including at night, to see if there is a different culprit. If the plants are just yellowing and wilting, they might just be at the end of their life cycle. Generally you wait for the plant to wilt and then wait a little longer and then harvest your potatoes.

If you have fair sized tubers, I would go ahead and pull them and replant with something. Are you in zone 5? If so you could still plant beans. Or you could wait a little more and plant cool weather stuff for fall.
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Re: loosing the battle to potato bugs

This is a cut and paste from Organic Gardening.

Q.: Each year, my potatoes are overrun with beetles. What can I do to prevent this?
A: It sounds like you have a problem with the Colorado potato beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata). This pest favors potatoes, but it also feasts on tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and petunias. The beetle and its larvae don't actually go after the tubers. Instead they feast on the plants' leaves and shoots, inhibiting their ability to photosynthesize and reducing potato yields. Adults are yellowish orange with black spots behind their heads and 10 black stripes on their wing covers. They overwinter in the soil and emerge in late spring and walk to host plants, where they lay clusters of yellow, oval-shaped eggs. The larvae hatch and feed for up to 3 weeks before they pupate in the soil. There may be as many as three generations per year in the South, while farther north, one to two generations is typical.


The easiest and best way to prevent damage to your potato crop is to create a barrier between the pest and the plants with a lightweight floating row cover. Place the row cover over the potatoes after planting and leave it on until you are ready to harvest.

If you don't use a row cover, regularly inspect your plants and destroy egg clusters, larvae, and adults. Place a heavy layer of straw mulch around your potato plants. Research indicates that the mulch inhibits the Colorado potato beetle's ability to actually find your potatoes, and the mulch acts as a microenvironment that encourages the beetle's natural predators, including ground beetles, which feed on larvae, and lady beetles and lacewings, which feed on eggs and larvae.

Plant coriander, dill, sweet alyssum, fennel, and cosmos around your potato patch to attract the beneficial insects. Also try planting potato varieties that mature before pest populations reach their height in early summer, such as 'Caribe', 'Superior', and 'Yukon Gold'.

Surrounding your potato patch with a plastic-lined, V-shaped trench can also reduce the number of adults that reach your plants in spring. As they emerge from the soil and head for the plants, they fall into the trench and can't get out. Destroy them

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Re: loosing the battle to potato bugs

If it's potato beetles, I believe there is a Bt strain for them. That's what I would have reached for.

When did you plant your potatoes? What variety? It's been 90 days since mine were planted, so the early varieties should be ready soon, but I also planted mid (100-110 days) and late (110-120 days) varieties. It would like you might have some kind of harvest even if the tubers are smaller than they could have been.

I think I wouldn't pull them just yet, but let the plants die down on their own -- the stress might just trigger that -- even if they no longer have leaves, there are still plenty of nutrients in the stems that the plants can send down to the tubers.

They say eggplants are good trap crops for potato beetles, but I have trouble growing healthy eggplants -- I found out quite by accident that jimsonweeds make great trap crop for them since they seem to prefer them to potatoes (sometimes it helps to procrastinate with your chores). Use beneficial nematodes to help with the pupae in the soil. I can't spread them except in cooler spring and autumn seasons here.
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Re: loosing the battle to potato bugs

Another "trap" crop is nightshade but it helps not at all if your garden is next to acres of farm fields where there is plenty of nightshade for the Colorado potato beetles for feasting and building an enormous population.

Yes, they prefer eggplant, in my experience. Still, it would be nice to have some eggplant for the kitchen.

One year, after the Bt specifically for beetles became difficult to find, the potato bugs came at my eggplants in waves! I beat them off with pyrethrum spray. After several weeks, the ground around the eggplants was littered with dead bugs. Some of the plants were dead, however. The remainder produced fruit that was too bitter to eat. So much for a twice-weekly spraying attempt to stop the pests.

The next season, I had found spinosad. I have had no serious problem with those bugs in anything the last few years. Not only the bugs but nightshade is my enemy . . .

Steve
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Re: loosing the battle to potato bugs

If you are fighting colorado potato beetle, know that they usually live on clover or timothy (or some such) and if their population if great enough in local hayfield, their ranks are replaced daily from the field to your crop.

This population colapses from time to time. On others it increases. :(

Expect to spray on years of increase daily with BT (baccilus thurengensis sp?) If you are really dilligent you can almost keep up with them...
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Losing the battle to potato bugs

For the future, your 20 ft row of just potatoes is a beacon to everything in the county that loves potatoes.

If you plant in beds, like 4x8, you can plant the bed thickly, but mix in the coriander, fennel, dill and other aromatics like tansy, nasturtium, and catnip and then mulch, it will be much harder for the pests to find your crops.
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joed2323
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Re: Losing the battle to potato bugs

Thanks for everyone's input so far.

Yeah on some of my plants they chewed off almost all of the leaves, I kinda took it to heart and want to kill these bugs before they fly away and get away with murder.. I need to teach them a lesson since they schooled me this year...

I think fire is the best way for me to achieve satisfaction

Btw - it is the Colorado beetle

Northernfox
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Re: Losing the battle to potato bugs

Lady bugs have won me this battle every year !! And switching over to potato bags. :)
Stephen

joed2323
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Re: Losing the battle to potato bugs

Next year I will be going with floating row covers since it seems like a effective method.
I'm at my at my wits end with these beetles.

Northernfox
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Re: Losing the battle to potato bugs

It is probably a good idea to treat them this year with the method you are comfortable with. That will help keep next years lower.

IMHO
Stephen



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