While the most troublesome pests of home gardens vary from region to region, there are some well-recognizable pests such as potato bugs that plague gardeners nearly everywhere.
We have included information to identify the insects, which is sometimes done by the trail of damages to your fruits and vegetables they leave behind. In addition, we have listed pest control options available for various types of bugs.
One type of potato bugs are called leafhoppers. The adults are wedge-shaped, slender, and brown or green in color. In some species, there is a very noticeable forward point above the head. Some of the insects have brightly colored bands on the wings. All leafhoppers jump rapidly into flight when disturbed.
Adult potato bugs and their young draw juices from undersides of leaves and stems of the majority of vegetable and fruit crops. Their saliva carries toxins which stunt the growth of plants, cause tip burn, and the leaves to curl and yellow. You will also spot white spots on the undersides of leaves. The insects may also spread viruses as they feed.
Types of Bugs
The adult bugs on potaoes known as leafhoppers start laying eggs in spring when leaves begin to appear on trees. The eggs hatch in 10-14 days. Most species have 2-5 generations per year, over wintering as adults or eggs.
Colorado potato beetles as adults can be identified by their yellow wing covers with ten black stripes. Larvae are orangey, humpbacked grubs, with black spots on its sides. Eggs are bright yellow ovals found in clusters on the undersides of leaves. The immature insects eat potato foliage, quickly defoliating plants. You will find adults and pupae in soil where potatoes are grown. Both adults and larvae chew leaves of the tomato-family plants.
Best Organic Pesticides
To keep your garden healthy without the use of chemicals: Spray weekly with insecticidal soap, pyrethrin, rotenone, neem, or sabadilla. The natural source for pyrethrin is pyrethrum flowers. Rotenone is an insecticide made from the roots of derris, a tropical plant. The South Asian native climbing plants contain the natural toxin rotenone. Neem is made from a South Asian tree. The tall evergreen tree is grown for its bark, resin, and seed oil, which has insecticidal properties. Sabadilla is native to Mexico. The seeds of the Mexican plant are used in insecticides.
For controlling the Colorado potato beetle: in springtime, shake adults from plants onto ground cloth during the early morning hours. Dump beetles into a bucket of soapy water.
Keeping garden pests at bay does not require using synthetic chemicals. There are growing methods such as crop rotation and common household items like dish soap that can be used to control pests that attack your plants. We have listed below preventative methods against the bugs. Spray eggs from plants with stiff sprays of water.
* Attract natural enemies like predatory flies and parasitic wasps with pollen and nectar flowers.
* Mulch plants with deep straw layer to deter potato bugs.
* Cover plants with floating row covers until midseason.
* Release 2-5 spined soldier bugs per square yard of plants. The soldier bugs are similar in appearance to stink bugs and will attack Colorado potato beetles.
* Apply parasitic nematodes to soil to attack larvae.
* Spray double strengths of BTSD, a variety of Bacillus thuringiensis, to control small larvae of the Colorado potato beetle.
Biological sprays and dusts destroy pests such as potato bugs without harming the environment. While they may not work as quickly as some chemical sprays, they are effective.
Go to Identifying-Garden-Pests from Potato Bugs