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How to Control Potato Beetles Organically

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Got potato beetles? We feel your pain! Here’s how to keep them at bay using sustainable & organic methods.

Colorado potato beetles are a menace to many organic gardeners, sucking out your potato plants’ valuable nutrients, and reducing their ability to form a good yield. (Potato beetles may also attack tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and even petunias, though they prefer potatoes.)

Adults are typically yellowish orange with black stripes on their wings. They lay clusters of yellow eggs on the undersides of potato leaves in late spring and summer. Larvae may be grayish, or reddish orange, and soft bodied, with a row of black dots down each side. Once hatched, they feed on the potato plants for about 3 weeks, before dropping to the ground to pupate, and begin the cycle over again.

If you have problems with potato beetles, here are a few methods for dealing with them without resorting to harmful garden chemicals.

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 row covers, regularly inspect your plants and destroy any egg clusters you find, as well as larvae and adults. Also, place a heavy layer of straw mulch around your plants. Research indicates that the mulch inhibits the Colorado potato beetle’s ability to actually find the plants, 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 both eggs and larvae).

You may also want to Plant coriander, dill, sweet alyssum, fennel, and cosmos around your potato patch to attract the beneficial insects….

Surrounding your potato patch with a plastic-lined, V-shaped trench can also reduce the number of adults that reach your plants in spring….

For more info, check out the full article at RodalesOrganicLife.com

 

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