Potato Beetles are garden killers, both the adult and larval forms chew leaves and can completely defoliate an entire crop. Not discerning, potato beetles will enjoy other plants in your garden including tomatoes, peppers and eggplant.
The adults are about 1/3″ and yellowish-orange with black stripes on their wings and black spots behind the head. The larvae about half the size of the adults are red with black head and legs, and become yellowish-red or orange before they mature to the full sized pest.
Beetles will hibernate in the soil emerging in the spring. At this time the females lay orange-yellow eggs in clusters on the undersides of leaves. In approximately 1-2weeks the eggs hatch and the voracious larvae begin too feed, which goes on for about 1 month. Once they mature they fall to the ground and pupate emerging as adult beetles – AHHHH!
So how does one prevent or destroy these pests? Read on my friend, read on.
Similar to the old “pick n’ squish” you can shake adults beetles from plants into soapy water
Beneficial insects, such as ladybugs, and lacewings, feed on eggs and larvae
Beneficial nematodes will attack the immature beetles in the soil
Diatomaceous earth contains no toxic poisons and can be dusted lightly over vegetable crops wherever pests are found
Spot treat with fast-acting pesticides such as Bug Be Gone or Malathion
After harvest pick up garden debris and turn the soil over around plants to disturb overwintering beetles.