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Checking out the garden last night I was horrified to see all these little bugs on my potato plants.  At first I thought they were Lady Bugs with a quick glance, but looking closer I realized they were the pesty Colorado Potato Beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata) larvae.

I had read about the potato bug in the past while researching garden insects and pests, but this is the first in 3 years growing potatoes that they showed up.  A quick look through google nested some interesting sites for information.  Here are a few:

I'm not interested and never used pesticides in the garden, so was looking for a natural control method.  From what I've read about many different options, but these make sense to me:

  1. Manually go through the garden daily or even twice daily and pick the potato beetls into a container with soap and water.
  2. Can use 100% Neem oil as a diluted spray.  Neem oil is a natural control and works by discouraging the potato beetle from feeding, but not directly killing them.
  3. Attract or bring in natural biological predators for your garden such as green lacewings, ladybugs, predatory stinkbugs and spiders.
  4. Use BT (Bacillus Thuringiensis), which is a naturally occurring bacterial disease.  It's available as a spray solution at your local garden center and is effective in killing potato beetle larvae, but not as effective on adults.  Best to use if you catch early.

Since I only have a small patch of potatoes and am outside daily, I decided to just check a couple times a day and manually pick them off.  Some are in pretty bad shape so I hope I caught them in time.  Would hate to not have fresh garden potatoes this year and into the fall.

I'd love to hear how others go rid of these buggers.  I haven't personally tried the Neem oil or BT, but that would be my next move.  I also practice crop rotation to reduce the chance of recurrence... but I'm also looking into what I can do to the soil to possibly eliminate or reduce the change of them coming back next year in that bed.