I came home to red bugs on my potatoes and they are almost destroyed!! - Mothering Forums

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Old 06-04-2009, 11:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I came home after 7 days vacation to find red bugs all over my potato plants having eaten through the majority of the leaves on them. It has been very wet here the last few weeks. My plants have been in the ground since mid-March. They were big healthy and beautiful. Is there anything I can do to get some worth out of my potatoes that are now just stalks, and to save the ones that still have leaves? I'm upset enough to cry.

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Old 06-05-2009, 05:28 PM
 
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Hey! I can't believe I just googled "red bugs on potatoes" and came up with your post! I have them like crazy as well and after some searching on the net discovered these are the larva of the dreaded potato bug I've been picking them off by hand because I don't want to spray anything too toxic with kids. If you can pen your chickens around them they will eat them off though. The bad news from what I read though is that potatoes feed through their leaves so if they are too badly damaged it will drastically reduce your crop. Lets hope not and sorry to hear you have the same problem. If anyone out there has organic suggestions I'd love to hear about them!
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Old 06-05-2009, 07:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I picked tons of them off by hand today. Oh yuck! I was cursing them the whole time in my head. I tried to feed some to my chickens and they wouldn't eat them. They thought they were as yuck as me. I think I've lost the biggest part of my potatoes as they haven't flowered yet and some of them have no leaves now.

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Old 06-06-2009, 06:07 AM
 
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Have you identified the pest on your plants yet? Could be the Colorado Potato Beetle. Check here at the UK Entomology site, they have a photo. We have a bad problem with flea beetles on our potatoes every year, but I started using neem oil this year and the plants actually look beautiful for once. LOL If you can get the bugs under control now, the plants should send out new shoots and just put your harvest off by a few weeks. The newest organic treatment for Colorado Potato Beetle is Bacillius thuringiensis (var tenebrionis). I believe you have to catch them in the larval stage for it to work though. May be a little higher in price than other strains of Bt because of it being a newer strain, but you should be able to find an online source.
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Old 06-06-2009, 03:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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The bug is none of those mentioned. I have a picture of it on my blog right now along with the damage it has done. I'm picking them off by hand and drowning them. It's not a bug I've seen before, and they've done so much in 7 days.

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Old 06-06-2009, 08:37 PM
 
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no advice. those things are creepy : i hope you get them all and get a really nice crop of potatoes!

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Old 06-06-2009, 09:19 PM
 
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Found a pic of the potato bug (colorado potato beetle) larva here. Are you sure that's not what you have as well? I found some sites that carry a new type of Bt that supposedly works if you catch them early.
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Old 06-06-2009, 09:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2MonkeysMama View Post
Found a pic of the potato bug (colorado potato beetle) larva here. Are you sure that's not what you have as well? I found some sites that carry a new type of Bt that supposedly works if you catch them early.
Oh, shoot! Yes, those are the nasty things. It looks considerably better today. I haven't picked off near as many as yesterday. I may look into the spray, but can't afford much. If it will work for other bugs too, I'll consider it.

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Old 06-06-2009, 10:52 PM
 
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Yup those are potato bugs, my mom grew rows and rows of potatos when we where kids - I've seen far to many of them for my likeing. Three ways to at least lessen the problem.
1 - get any adults as soon as you see them - they are hard shelled and have stripes - drown them
2 - the larva (which is what you are finding) - use a stick and a pail, knock them into the pail - do twice a day (this is faster then hand picking them all) and you won't get any to the audult stage
3 - when you are "swatting" the plants look for yellow/orange egg clusters on the underside of the leaves - pick those leaves and destroy them with the bugs
4 -(ok I said 3 things but there is 4) Make a mix of Diotomatios earth and cyan pepper (hot pepper) powder, place in a jar with holes in the lid and dust the plants when they are damp after a dew or rain this kills the larva - but not the adults
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Old 06-08-2009, 03:35 PM
 
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Spinosad is another organic pesticide for use on Potato Beetles. It usually comes in concentrate and costs about $20.00, but it will make 8 gallons of liquid. And it can be used on more pests than just Colorado Potatoe Beetles, so it won't sit there on the shelf until next year. Getting them in the larval stage is your best bet. Even Sevin doesn't faze the adult beetles much anymore.
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