This morning I spied a Colorado Potato Beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata) or three in the vegetable garden. Here’s a fuzzy snapshot of one Colorado Potato Beetle contentedly munching away on young eggplant leaves.
Do you see the yellow striped beetle? It’s approximately center frame.
Here’s a closeup of another Colorado Potato Beetle once I flicked him/her onto the ground.
Despite the fact that these pests are aren’t questionably distractive to the vegetable garden, I find it difficult to kill such a beautiful creature. Somehow it’s easier to squish a slug that it is to crush this handsomely striped beetle.
Despite my aesthetic misgivings, I dispatched each Colorado Potato Beetle and made a mental note to doodle or perhaps watercolor one. Or two. (See above.)
Colorado Potato Beetle
Here’s what you need to know about the Colorado Potato Beetle. (Many thanks to Sally Jean Cunningham whose book, Great Garden Companions: A Companion Planting System for a Beautiful, Chemical-Free Vegetable Garden, informed this and many of my gardening posts.)
- Description: The mature beetles are around 1/3″ long and their hard, rounded shell (think modern VW bug) is yellow with black stripes (body) and orange with black spots (head). Although I haven’t seen any yet, the Colorado Potato Beetle larvae “are plump orange grubs with two rows of black dots on each side of the body.” (Source: Great Garden Companions: A Companion Planting System for a Beautiful, Chemical-Free Vegetable Garden, Sally Jean Cunningham)
- Damage: They defoliate potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, etc.
- Prevention: Straw mulch and row covers. Remove and crush larvae and adults.
- Enemies: According to Cunningham, the Colorado Potato Beetle appeals to lots of predators including: “ground beetles, spined soldier bugs, and two-spotted stinkbugs, as well as birds and toads.” She offers plenty of additional options for gardeners interested in introducing/encouraging predators.
- Companions: Bush beans ostensibly discourage Colorado Potato Beetle infestations, as do garlic, horseradish, “tansy, yarrow, and other Aster Family plants…”
I’ll start by hunting, doodling, and crushing. And then I’ll hustle up on installing our straw mulch (we’re WAY behind!) and adding some companion plants. Fingers crossed.