Potato bugs are bad this year

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by Paula, May 25, 2006.

  1. Paula

    Paula Well-Known Member

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    Last year it was the squash bugs, this year looks like it'll be potato bugs. They haven't been bad here for a few years, guess we're due for some.
    DH and I spent 10-15 minutes yesterday squishing them. They're juicy! And orange. You could make orange dye out of those suckers.
    I made dh squish the few adults we found - too crunchy for me.
     
  2. Paquebot

    Paquebot Well-Known Member

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    If you had noticed them when the first adults showed up, then your orange squishing would have been greatly reduced. It was fun last year in our community gardens as they seemed to be almost everywhere. Since I was "programmed" at age 4 to walk through the potato patch to find them, I became the official protector of all plots which had potatoes. Several were nipped in the bud, so to speak, and never had any larval stage. Whenever adults were found, there was a thorough search for any eggs. There was one plot where the rows were too close for good observation and suddenly there were red-orange larva everywhere. There, I was killing up to 50 or more while standing in one spot.

    If you don't stop them now, they will quickly produce a second generation and possibly a third in your zone. We had two generations here last year and there weren't many the second time due to my daily searches. Nevertheless, I was planting peas on 29 April of this year and something came crawling out of the soil right where I was going to drop a pea. It was a potato beetle! This was the first time that I had ever seen one in April, or even May! So far, that's the only one but I know it won't be the last.

    Martin
     

  3. Ravenlost

    Ravenlost Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I can remember being paid a quarter for every quart jar of potato bugs I picked. Sometimes it would take a couple days to fill my jar! I had them bad last year, thought I had them conquered this year and BAM...a new batch showed up out of nowhere. Plus, I'm fighting pea aphids...didn't have those last year.

    I feed all the potato bugs to the chickens (they like them, but don't get as excited as they do over tomato worms). I chuckle evilly while I pick them and tell them they are about to meet their doom.

    :p
     
  4. MsPacMan

    MsPacMan Well-Known Member

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    Oh, great, Paula!

    This is the first year I have grown potatoes, and I live in Tennessee too.

    Last year's squash bugs were terrible. I haven't seen those orange bugs in my potatoes yet, but if they are infesting your potatoes, it won't be long till they find my plants too.
     
  5. Paquebot

    Paquebot Well-Known Member

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    Don't wait until you see something orange. The time to stop them is when you see the adults. They are quite distinct so you can't miss them. http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/graphics/photos/dec97/K4978-5.htm

    If you find adults, look at the under side of all leaves within about a 5' radius. Eggs are bright orange and again you can't miss seeing them unless you miss that leaf. And then the young,..... http://www.gaipm.org/top50/potato.html

    Martin
     
  6. turtlehead

    turtlehead Well-Known Member

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    When y'all squish bugs do you do it with your bare hands, or what? I'm squeamish (I know, gotta get over that).
     
  7. dcross

    dcross Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Yellowjackets love'em!
     
  8. Paquebot

    Paquebot Well-Known Member

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    I almost always have a hoe with me to take care of incidental weeds. Drop the bugs on the ground and squish them under the hoe. Foot works OK also but make certain that the bugs are truly squished rather than merely pushed into soft ground. You don't want to leave a single survivor!

    Nothing really likes to eat them and their colors warn potential predators that they are not very tasty. I don't think that they have any natural enemies. One would think that the larva would be great snacks for a lot of birds but they are not. That's why they make little effort to hide when eating. After their warning color, their defense is to simply fall to the ground.

    Martin
     
  9. turtlehead

    turtlehead Well-Known Member

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    Thanks, Martin. I usually have a hoe or trowel with me and barring that, there are *always* rocks. :rolleyes:

    I just wasn't thinking. Thanks for the reply! :nerd:
     
  10. vicker

    vicker Well-Known Member

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    Turtlehead,
    So far, after 3 years, we've only found a handful of tater bugs on our taters here. If you plant early, you should have no problem. Once your potatos bloom, they can loose a lot of foilage without hurting you crop.
     
  11. Ravenlost

    Ravenlost Well-Known Member Supporter

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    My chickens gobble them up, but then, my chickens will gobble anything up that I give them. I've never seen the chickens eat them off the potato plants (I have lazy spoiled chickens).

    Early morning and late afternoon are the best times to pick them off. They come out better when it's cooler. It's a lot easier to find them when they're on top of the leaves instead of when they're hiding in the shade underneath the leaves.
     
  12. Paula

    Paula Well-Known Member

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    We squish 'em with our fingers. Used to gross me out too, but you get used to it.
    Nothing grosses my dh out. He mashes those huge juicy green tomato worms between his fingers, or pinches their heads off. Ugh.
     
  13. Paquebot

    Paquebot Well-Known Member

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    Planting early isn't going to stop them if they are around. Potato plants are subject to attack from first emergence to the final green leaf of a mature plant. The plants can handle damage after the tubers are well along. If those beetles are left, they are ready to emerge earlier next year. I was rather shocked today when I looked at one plot where about 25 plants have been up for only about a week. At first there seemed to only be 1 or 2 beetles. Then I went through and picked 8. Before an hour had passed, there were over beetles in a Gatorade bottle! Many were collected on the ground when they were walking towards the potato plants. I was not able to determine where they are emerging from since there were no potatoes grown within 100' of there last year. My own plot is about another 100' further on and with about 75 hills. As of an hour ago, there still wasn't a single beetle to be found. Tomorrow may be a different story!

    Martin
     
  14. Pony

    Pony STILL not Alice Supporter

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    {shudder} But I don't love yellowjackets...

    Pony!
     
  15. dcross

    dcross Well-Known Member Supporter

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    <<But I don't love yellowjackets... >>

    I only disliked one of them last year, when it went up my shorts! My buddy loves them ever since they cleaned up his car seat after he had a bag of gummy bears melt on the fabric.
     
  16. Pony

    Pony STILL not Alice Supporter

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    I had one get in my pant leg in the middle of this fancy-schmancy antique shop. Darned near dropped trou right there and then! Little blighter bit the snot out of my thigh... I still have a scar!

    Nope, nope, nope... don't like 'em.

    But if they'd clean the oil spill in the back of DH's Cherokee, I might learn to tolerate them... ;)

    Pony!
     
  17. MELOC

    MELOC Master Of My Domain

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    i have not found any yellow potatoe bugs, but i have seen many tiny black bugs munching on the leaves. i have little holes in them here and there. what are these little black beetle looking things?

    should i apply powdered lime?
     
  18. Paula

    Paula Well-Known Member

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    Probably flea beetles. Do they hop?
     
  19. MELOC

    MELOC Master Of My Domain

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    i didn't notice but i will check tomorrow. the name sound right for what i saw. they look like beetles about the size of a large flea.
     
  20. MsPacMan

    MsPacMan Well-Known Member

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    I took a look over at the link that showed a color photo of the Colorado potato beetle.


    Isn't that critter the same as the bean beetle?


    I have my green beans in an unwalled raised bed that is only about 10 inches above ground level, and I have seen the bean beetle in there cutting holes in my leaves. So I sprayed with BT.


    My potatoes, on the other hand, are in plastic half barrels that are sitting on top of two landscape timbers that I have stretched across cinder block towers. The half barrels are a good two feet off the ground, since the cinder block towers are stacked three blocks high and the timbers are run through the holes of the top block.


    Plus the potatoes are a good 50 feet away from the beans, with several other raised bed rows of veggies between them.


    Is it possible that -- given the fact that the potatoes are basically growing in a container that is two feet up off the ground -- that maybe my potoatoes might be protected from this beetle?


    What I do know is that I've seen him in my beans, but not yet in my potatoes.