Controlling Colorado Potato Beetles

Controlling Colorado Potato Beetles

Safer® Brand often gets gardening and insect questions on its Facebook page. If you have a question of your own, reach out to Safer® Brand on Facebook, and maybe we’ll feature your question as an article, just like this one:

My garden hasn’t done well for the last couple of seasons — especially my tomatoes and peppers, which seem to attract a yellow and black striped beetle that I think is eating their leaves. A friend told me these were Colorado potato beetles, but I was always under the assumption these bugs don’t have a taste for tomatoes and peppers. Is he right? And what can I do to get rid of them without resorting to insecticides?”

Your friend’s probably right. Those certainly sound like Colorado potato beetles. In addition to potatoes, these ravenous little bugs do in fact go after tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and any other plant in the Solanaceae family, commonly referred to as the Nightshade family. Both larvae and adult beetles cause damage.

Unlike some garden pests, the potato beetle is native to North America. It was first discovered in 1859 by Colorado settlers. The bug’s natural diet was the buffalo bur, a potato relative, but commercial potatoes proved extremely palatable, and the potato bug’s been making life miserable for gardeners ever since.

Colorado Potato Beetle Description

As you noted, a mature Colorado potato beetle has yellow wing covers with 10 narrow black stripes running down the body. The area just behind the head is yellow-orange, the body is oval and the beetle reaches a maximum size of about 3/8ths of an inch.

Potato beetle eggs are bright yellow-orange, and they can be found in clusters on the undersides of plant leaves. When hatched, the larvae are a brick-red color with black heads, but as they mature their bodies become salmon-colored. At all stages of development the larvae have two rows of dark spots running down each side of their bodies.

When temperatures are in the mid 80s, Colorado potato beetle larvae grow to maturity in less than ten days. In cooler temperatures the process can take up to a month. Once mature, the larvae burrow into the soil to pupate, and two generations can come to maturity over a summer.

Controlling Colorado Potato Beetles

You can get rid of Colorado potato beetles, although you’ll need some patience. Start in the spring, before you plant, by removing nightshade, ground cherry and other weeds in the Solanaceae family from the garden. The beetles eat these while they’re waiting for tomatoes, potatoes and peppers.

If you have a small garden, you can try handpicking the pests and drowning them in a pail of soapy water. At the same time, inspect the undersides of leaves regularly and remove any eggs. You’ll have to be vigilant with this, especially if you live in an area where potatoes are a commercial crop. The Colorado potato beetle’s a flier and can move into a garden from other backyards or fields.

As an organic gardener, you don’t want to use chemical pesticides. Plus, they’re not very effective against potato beetle infestations anyway. Luckily, there’s a chemical-free way to get rid of these pests. Safer® Brand’s End ALL ® , which is OMRI® Listed and USDA approved for organic gardening, contains neem oil and pyrethrin. These two compounds kill destructive insects at all stages of development, yet they easily break down into the environment.

How to get rid of the Colorado potato beetle with mustard and vinegar

The Colorado potato beetle is a species of insects from the family of leaf beetles, a subfamily of true leaf beetles.

Discovered in 1824 by the entomologist Thomas Sayem, one of the most dangerous pests of solanaceous crops.

Currently, not only chemical insecticides to fight the beetle, but also folk remedies for the Colorado potato beetle have gained wide popularity.

Did you know? Despite the fact that the insect got its name after the devastation of potato fields in the state of Colorado in 1859, its homeland is the Sonoran province in northeastern Mexico.

Colorado potato beetle: pest description

The body of the Colorado potato beetle is oval in shape, 7–12 mm long, on top is convex, yellow, the head and prothorax are covered with spots. On each wing there are five longitudinal black stripes.

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Differs in exceptional fecundity — for the life of the female, on average, they lay up to 800 eggs, arranged in small groups of 30-40 pieces each. After 10-15 days, fleshy larvae appear in eggs, their life lasts 25 days.

At the larva stage, four ages are distinguished, which are separated by molts. At the first and at the second age, the larvae have a dark brown color; at the third age, the larva acquires an orange, pink or yellow-orange shade. Their head, legs and two rows of warts on the sides of the body are black.

In the first and second instar, the larvae remain in groups on the tops of the shoots; in the third and fourth, they transfer to neighboring plants. During the pupation period, most of the larvae burrow into the soil to a depth of 10 cm at a distance of 10–20 cm from the bush, which they ate.

The pupa is formed in 10-20 days. In the fall, beetles burrow 70 m into the soil and freeze until spring, getting to the surface only after the temperature rises to 15 ° C.

In calm weather, the speed of flight of beetles — 4-8 km per hour. Getting into the water, the beetles do not sink, the current of the river carries them away, giving the opportunity to crawl out to the shore.

Did you know? The intense orange color of the larvae is a sign of the presence of carotene coloring matter in their bodies.

What is harmful Colorado potato beetle

Each year, the owners of the dachas raises the question of how to get rid of the Colorado potato beetle. The Colorado potato beetle has insatiable gluttony; it destroys potatoes, stems, leaves (in spring), flowers (in summer), tubers (in early autumn). As soon as the temperature decreases, the pests burrow into the soil.

The gradual movement of the plant means imminent damage, because the number of beetles increases with time, which puts even more fruit at risk. The beetle, besides potatoes, eats eggplants, tomatoes, sweet peppers with pleasure.

Important! The beetle is a long-lived record holder who overcomes his hungry years, falling into a 2-3-year pause, after which he is able to give healthy offspring.

How to get rid of the Colorado potato beetle, cooking mixture

Mustard will quickly and safely get rid of the Colorado potato beetle.

Summer residents planted mustard to scare away insects so that it does not allow weeds to grow and improve the structure of the land.

Thanks to its ability to grow rapidly, cleansing the land from phytophthora and scab, not leaching the soil, it helps to fight wireworm, pinworm, slugs.

It has a positive impact in the fight against the Colorado potato beetle. It is best to plant the mustard between the rows of potatoes and eggplants, pick during the flowering period and spread out between plants that can become victims of the Colorado potato beetle.

Vinegar is also useful against the Colorado potato beetle. In vinegar is acetic acid, complex alcohols, esters and aldehydes, and acetic essence of 80% of the concentration can destroy the insect when it penetrates inside.

But the best effect will be a mixture of mustard and vinegar. For her cooking 100 g of mustard powder and 100 ml of 9% vinegar should be diluted in one bucket of water.

Exists another version of the mustard-vinegar mixture: 200 g of mustard powder diluted in 10 liters of water and insist 12 hours, then add 150 ml of vinegar. Also, turpentine, an infusion of onion peel, garlic or wormwood can be added to the remedy for the Colorado potato beetle, which will enhance the effectiveness of a folk remedy.

How to apply the mixture

In order for mustard and vinegar against the Colorado potato beetle to work, you should follow the rules in the manufacture and use of the solution. It is necessary to process potato tops at the beginning of growth and when the number of beetles increases during flowering.

It is better to make spraying in the evening, when the heat of the day subsides, in warm and calm weather.

For processing, a large amount of the solution will be required, spraying should be done regularly, but treatment should be stopped 20 days before the estimated harvest. A solution of pure vinegar should not be watered. When processing tops, try to prevent the mixture from dripping. Mustard and can be watered and sprayed leaves.

You also can not forget that the use of the solution over 3 hours does not make sense, it must be made immediately before use. Mustard in the fight against the Colorado potato beetle will be powerless if carried out spraying under the influence of direct sunlight: it will lose its qualities, and the entry of rain drops can simply wash away the solution.

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It is undesirable to use the mixture after rain, after abundant dew, in foggy weather, during strong winds. The best time to process is pre-sunset evening.

Important! The main harm to the plants is not brought by adults, but by the larvae at the third and fourth age of development, therefore the fight with the beetle cannot be postponed.

The use of folk remedies has the main advantage over chemical preparations — they are absolutely safe for people, animals, plants and the environment due to the fact that they are non-toxic.

The best drugs to combat the Colorado potato beetle (Part 1)

The Colorado potato beetle is a very common and difficult to remove pest that can leave with little or no crop.

Therefore now there are a huge number of different drugsacting against him.

To facilitate the selection among the extensive range, we have compiled a review of the best anti-Colorado potato beetle.


The combined drug is very effective from a whole set of pests.

  • Release form and packaging. Concentrate of substances, soluble in water. Sold in 1.3 ml glass ampoules.
  • Chemical composition:

Cypermethrin 50 g / l;
Chlorpyrifos 500 g / l.

Mechanism of action. The drug killer affects the nervous system. Chlorpyrifos violates the production of protein enzymes that are involved in the transmission of impulses of the nervous system.


Insecticidal new generation of neonicotinoids. Used to destroy the most resistant pests of plants against which other drugs do not work.

Among them are the Colorado potato beetle, whiteflies, thrips, all varieties of scoops, aphids, tsikadki, moth and many other insects.

  • Form release and packaging. Granules, soluble in water, packed in small bags. Each contains 0.2 g or 0.5 g of the drug.
  • Chemical composition: Clotiianidine 500 g / kg.
  • Mechanism of action. The drug inhibits the opening of sodium channels, not allowing to conduct a nerve impulse. The result is paralysis, then pest death.
    Bushido has systemic, contact and intestinal properties. It penetrates only into leaves and stems, without affecting the tubers.
  • Duration of action. Acts instantly.
  • Compatibility with other drugs. Perfectly combines with almost all insecticides currently available.
  • When to apply? In the morning before 10 h or in the evening after 18 h, with no wind and rain.
  • How to prepare a solution? Pellets 1 package dissolve in 5 liters of cool water and mix well until completely dissolved. This volume is enough for spraying 100 square meters.
  • Mode of application. Spraying potatoes at any stage of the growing season or processing of planting tubers.
  • Toxicity. Very toxic to bees — hazard class 1. For people and animals it is practically non-toxic, it belongs to the 3rd class.


A unique new drug, is currently considered the most non-toxic to humans.

The drug Sonet acts on all stages of the development of the Colorado potato beetle — it destroys the eggs, stops feeding on the larvae and contributes to the sterility of adults.

    Release form and packing:
    2 ml glass ampoules;
    plastic bottles of 10 ml.

  • Chemical composition: Hexaflumuron 100 g / l.
  • Mechanism of action. The substance, getting inside the body, blocks the synthesis and subsequent development of chitinous membranes. As a result, there is a cessation of many vital functions, including the desire to eat. The path of penetration — intestinal and contact.
  • Duration of action. The maximum effect can be traced after 3-4 days after treatment. The duration of protection is about a month.
  • Compatibility with other drugs. It is recommended to carry out tests with a small amount of drugs on the compatibility of the Sonnet with the other insecticides.
  • When to apply? The sonnet has good lipophilicity and is not washed off with water. However, the treatment is recommended in clear calm weather, preferably in the evening or early in the morning.
  • How to prepare a solution?

    Spark «Double Effect»

    Combined preparation of a very wide range of effects.

    • Form release and packaging. Available in pill form. One pack contains 1 piece weighing 10 g.
    • Chemical composition:

    permethrin 9 g / l;
    cypermethrin 21 g / kg.

  • Mechanism of action. The drug inhibits the opening of sodium channels and, as a consequence, the transmission of pulses. Intestinal and contact penetration pathways.
  • Duration of action. The protection period lasts up to 2 weeks.
  • Compatibility with other drugs. Do not use alkaline with insecticides.
  • When to apply? With low sun activity — in the morning or in the evening, better in the absence of wind and precipitation.
  • How to prepare a solution? 10 g of the product (1 tablet) should be stirred in 10 l of water until it is dissolved. The volume is enough for processing 100sq.m.
  • Toxicity. Spark has moderate toxicity for people, animals and bees — Grade 3.
  • Troy, Hangman

    New combination products from different manufacturers, but with absolutely identical composition and properties. Means are declared as insect fungal stimulant of plants.

    • Form release and packaging. Ampoules containing water-soluble granules. In the package 5 ampoules of 2 g.
    • Chemical composition:

    potytin 2 g / kg;
    thiabendazole 80 g / kg;
    Thiamethoxam 250 g / kg.

  • Mechanism of action. Destroy all degrees of development of the beetle. Violate the nervous system and respiratory function. Means have intestinal, contact and systemic effects. They prevent the development of macrosporosis and late blight.
  • Duration of action. Guaranteed protective period — up to 30 days.
  • When and how to apply? At any time of the day, the preparations are resistant to high temperature, precipitation and wind. Spraying bushes or tubers before planting.
  • How to prepare a solution? For processing 100kv.m 2g means to mix until dissolved in a bucket of water. To process 30 kg of tubers you need 10g per 50l of water.
  • Toxicity. The drug belongs to class 2, being moderately toxic to people and animals. Toxicity to bees is high — 1 class.
  • Bison, Kalash

    The drugs are combined together, as they have the same composition. The mechanism of action, method of application and other nuances are perfect identical.

    Represent new tools that not only destroy the Colorado potato beetles and protect against re-attack, but also are anti-stress plants.

    • Form release and packaging. Concentrate, soluble in water. The bag contains a 1 ml ampoule.
    • Chemical composition: Imidacloprid — 200 g / l.
    • Mechanism of action. Possess neurotoxin properties, blocking the work of the nervous system. Beetles affect paralysis of limbs, then death.


    Combined agent — fungicide and insecticide. Helps to save potatoes from many pests with a gnawing mouth apparatus. Among them are Khrushchev, Colorado potato beetle, rhizoctonia.

    • Form release and packaging. Ampoules that contain granules that are soluble in water or an emulsion concentrate. Capacity — 1,3; 2g.
    • Chemical composition:

    poteyn — 2 g / l;
    mancozeb — 300 g / l;
    acetamiprid — 200 g / l.

  • Mechanism of action. Ways of penetration — intestinal, systemic and contact. It affects the insect’s central nervous system, causing severe over-stimulation and death by inhibiting the work of acetylcholine receptors.
  • Duration of action. It starts working after 40-60 minutes and does not stop protecting plants for longer than 3 weeks.
  • Compatibility with other drugs. It goes well with fungicides and pyrethroids in tank mixes.
  • When and how to apply?
    1. Spray plants during the growing season;
    2. Handle tubers before planting.

    Procedures are carried out with reduced solar activity, in the absence of wind and precipitation.

  • How to prepare a solution? For processing 200 square meters. m. — 2 ml of product for 10 l of cool water. Stir and evenly spray the bushes. For pickling 20 kg of tubers 10 ml diluted in 30 liters of water.
  • Toxicity. Means ranked as class 3 of danger to all living organisms.
  • Marshal

    Universal remedy that has not only insecticidal, but also acaricidal and nematocidal effect.

    • Form release and packaging. Wetting powder 25% or emulsion concentrate, contained in 2 g ampoules
    • Chemical composition: Carbosulfan from the group of carbamates.
    • Mechanism of action. The product prevents acetylcholinesterase from being produced, because of this, acetylcholine accumulates and the normal functioning of the nervous system is disturbed.
      This leads to paralysis of the limbs and death of the insect. Ways of penetration into the body — systemic (translaminar properties), contact and intestinal.
    • Duration of action. Starts to work immediately after application. Duration of activity during spraying up to 25 days, with soil application — up to 40 days.
    • Compatibility with other drugs. It combines with many insecticides, fungicides and mineral fertilizers. It should not be mixed with drugs containing sulfur and having a strong alkaline reaction.
    • When and how to apply? In calm weather, spray the bushes or pickling tubers.
    • How to prepare a solution? 7 ml of the product mixed with 9 liters of water.
    • Toxicity. Very toxic, belongs to class 2.

    Read more about preparations for fighting the Colorado potato beetle in the article “The best drugs for fighting the Colorado potato beetle (part 2)”

    RNA interference in Colorado potato beetle: steps toward development of dsRNA as a commercial insecticide


    CPB is a difficult pest to control since it develops resistance quickly.

    Feeding dsRNA works well and could help in controlling this pest.

    Improved methods for production and formulation of dsRNA need to be developed.

    Studies on non-target effects and potential resistance development are essential.

    Colorado potato beetle (CPB) is a notorious pest on potatoes and has a remarkable ability to detoxify plant chemicals and develop resistance against insecticides. dsRNA targeting CPB genes could be expressed in potato plants to control this pest. However, previous attempts at introducing transgenic potato plants to control CPB were not highly successful. Recent studies showed that feeding dsRNA expressed in bacteria works very well to kill CPB. To realize the potential of RNAi to control this and other economically important pests, more efficient methods for production and delivery of dsRNA need to be developed. Extensive research to determine off-target and non-target effects, environmental fate and potential for resistance development is also essential.

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