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Past Articles Library | Organic Pest Control | Colorado Potato Beetle


Leptinotarsa decemlineata

Colorado potato beetles can be devastating to plantings of potatoes and tomatoes since both adults and larvae chew on the plant's leaves, stems and fruit.



Adults are yellow-orange beetles, 1/3 inch (8.5 mm) long, with ten black stripes that run lengthwise on the wing covers and many black spots on the midsection behind the head. Larvae are dark orange, humpbacked grubs 1/16 to 1/2 inch (2 to 10 mm) long, with a row of black spots along each side. Eggs are bright yellow ovals.



Adults, and sometimes pupae, overwinter 2 to 4 inches (5 t to 35 cm) deep in the soil, sometimes even deeper in cold areas. They emerge in the spring to feed on potato plants as soon as the first sprouts and shoots appear. Females lay eggs on end in upright clusters on the undersides of leaves, and can produce up to 1,000 eggs during their lifespan of several months. Eggs hatch in 4 to 9 days, and larvae feed for 2 to 3 weeks. They pupate in the soil for another 2 to 3 weeks, and adults emerge in 5 to 10 days. Two generations per year in most areas.




Potato, tomato, eggplant and related plants including petunia.




Both adults and larvae chew on plant's leaves and stems, and in the case of tomato and eggplant, they will also chew on the fruit. Younger plants may be killed and older plants severely defoliated. Although the yield of defoliated plants is reduced or destroyed, a moderate mount of feeding on leaves has little effect on potato yields.




1. Plant potato cultivars that have some resistance such as 'Katadin' and 'Sequoia'.

2. Plant pollen and nectar flowers to attract native predators and parasites.

3. Mulching around plants seems to impede the movement of emerging beetles in early spring before they have fed enough to be able to fly.

4. Cover seedlings and plants with Floating Row Covers until midseason when the plants are well grown and mature. Make sure the floating row cover edges are buried in the soil.
More Information About Floating Row Covers

5. Till the soil in the fall to kill any overwintering beetles.


1. Try to eliminate the first generation for good control all season, starting in early spring, by inspecting shoots and undersides of leaves for adults, egg masses, and larvae.

2. Crush any egg masses found.

3. Handpick adults, or shake them from the plants onto a sheet of paper or into a bucket and dispose of them. This is very effective if started as soon as overwintering adults emerge.

4. To control larvae, handpick or spray weekly with Bulls-Eye Bioinsecticide for control of foliage feeding pests on leafy vegetables, potatoes, and tomatoes.
More Information about Bulls-Eye Bioinsecticide

5. Spray weekly with Liquid Rotenone / Pyrethrin Spray making sure the undersides of the leaves are thoroughly covered.
More Information Rotenone/Pyrethrin Spray

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