Females emerge in late April after overwintering, laying clusters of bright yellow eggs on young potato plants. Larvae mature in about three weeks and pupate in the soil. Ten days later adult beetles emerge, mate and lay more eggs.
While the preferred crop is potatoes, this pest will feed on tomatoes, eggplants and peppers as well. Recommended control strategies include:
Hand Picking: Feasible on a small scale with regular monitoring. Remove beetles and larvae to a container of soapy water.
Floating Row Cover: Create a physical barrier between your plants and the pest with a lightweight spun polyester or other fabric. It is important to seal the edges of the cover and since potatoes do not need to be pollinated, the row cover can remain in place during the growing season. However, this creates an obstacle for maintaining weeds in the rows.
Insecticides: Registered products include: Spinosad (Captain Jack's Dead Bug Brew, Bonide Colorado Beetle Beater Concentrate, Monterey Garden Insect Spray) and permethrin (Eight Vegetable, Fruit & Flower Concentrate, Hi Yield Garden and Farm Insect Control). (Cynthia Domenghini)