Kids’ Valley Garden

Potato Bugs

a bug!

  • Potato bugs eat potato leaves. This will eventually kill the plant because it can't produce chlorophyll, which is a plant food source.
  • Adult beetles are about one third of an inch long (8.5 mm) with orange-red colored heads and black bodies with yellow stripes.
  • They attach their orange eggs to the underside of leaves.
  • When the larvae hatch, they are orange-red with two rows of black dots down each side.
  • You can pick off the eggs, larvae, or the adult beetles from the plant and squash them.
  • Remember to search the underside of the leaves when looking for the eggs.
  • If you have well-fed chickens enclosed in a potato patch, they will find and eat the pests.
  • Mulch well and use a floating row cover.
  • This will only work against the Colorado Potato Bug because they can survive through the winter in the soil.
  • If you plant potatoes in a different location each year, it will reduce the number of bugs hibernating in the soil.
  • You can apply pesticides called Bacillus Thuringiensis, Pyrethrum, or Pyrethrum and Rotenone mixed to kill potato bugs.
  • Read the directions very carefully and ask for an adult's help to mix it properly.
  • Diatomaceous earth is a special mixture you can buy at a gardening store that can destroy the larvae.
  • Again, read the instructions carefully before applying it to your potato plants.
  • If your garden is under severe attack, apply Bacillus Thuringiensis San Diego (M-One, Bonide's Colorado Potato Beetle, etc.) as soon as larvae begin feeding.
  • Be sure to penetrate leaf and flower buds with the spray and don't wait to use it.
  • It can be very effective on the larvae but it doesn't work on adult bugs.
  • In Peru, there is a wasp called Edovum Puttleri that will destroy the Colorado potato beetles.
  • They are commercially available, but you should read about them first and consult an expert before you try this method of control.

Fascinating Facts!

  1. Potato bugs are also known by several other names, including "Jerusalem cricket" and "child of the earth".
  2. Some species of potato bugs can grow up to 2 inches (5 centimeters) long.
  3. Although potato bugs can look intimidating, they are not dangerous to humans and do not have venom.
  4. Potato bugs are mostly active at night and spend the daytime hours burrowed underground.
  5. Historically, some Native American tribes believed that potato bugs had magical powers and would use them in spiritual rituals.
  6. Potato bugs play an important role in the ecosystem by helping to break down decaying plant matter and keeping soil healthy.

bugs caring


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