How to get rid of potato beetles.

How to Get Rid of Colorado Potato Beetles (Naturally)

So, you need to get rid of Colorado potato beetles in your yard.

Are they eating your potatoes? Or tomatoes?

Or how ’bout your eggplants?

Whatever they’re eating, these are a destructive pest.

They’ll leave your foliage twisted and destroyed like no other. And possibly a failed bloom.

But you’re here to do something about it. So let’s get to it.

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • How to identify a potato beetle
  • Why there are Colorado beetles in your yard
  • What they’re eating and what they’re attracted to
  • Natural ways to get rid of them
  • How to keep them out of your garden for good
  • How to handle potato beetles in your house
  • What you can do to control and eradicate beetles from your veggies
  • And more

Bookmark this page so you can refer back to it quickly. It’s an extensive and detailed guide that’ll be handy for reference.

And if you have any questions, post a comment and I’ll get back with a reply ASAP.

Sound good? Let’s send those beetles back to where they came from!

(Unless you live in Colorado or Nebraska.)

What’s a Colorado potato beetle?

The Colorado potato beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata) is a prominent pest found all over the United States.

It’s a destructive species that feeds on the leaves of potato plants (along with tomato, eggplant, pepper, buffalo bur, and ground cherry).

The larvae are often found eating up the leaves of potatoes and will leave the skeletons of the leaf behind.

They can completely destroy younger plants or stunt the growth of established ones.

These potato bugs are responsible for millions of dollars worth of failed crop harvests each year and can destroy entire potato field rows in the United States.

If you’re a gardener that has potato plants in your yard, you may have come across their larvae or adults buzzing around your potato plants.

You need to act quickly as these potato bugs can ruin your next harvest.

Thankfully, we’ll cover a few natural ways you can control, manage, and get rid of them.

Other names

The Colorado potato beetle has a few other aliases:

  • Potato bug
  • Potato beetle
  • CPB
  • False potato beetle (Leptinotarsa juncta)
  • Colorado potato bug
  • Colorado beetle
  • CO potato beetle

Appearance

Colorado potato beetle eating a leaf.
Colorado potato beetles have a distinct appearance.

Colorado potato beetles have a distinct appearance that makes them easy to identify from other potato bugs.

They have a striking orange shielded back with alternating stripes going horizontally across their shell. The stripes are alternating black and yellow with a total of 10 from their thorax to their rear end.

Colorado beetles are about 0.5” in length when they reach adult size.

They have visible legs which are black in color with two winged patterns that span across their head.

Their head is slightly wider than their thorax and they have a “hunched” appearance as they feast and climb on your potato plant.

Young nymphs may not have all their striations, patterns, or colors visible yet.

As they grow up, you’ll see their striking appearance fade into view and you’ll easily identify these beetles.

Larvae

The larvae are worm or caterpillar-like and will hatch from egg clusters.

They look like red caterpillars that have a black hard. They have visible humps with dark spots on the left and right sides of their body.

As the larvae eat, they’ll eventually change color to orange or pink coloration. At this part of their lifecycle, they’re about 0.5” in length.

Eggs

Colorado potato beetle eggs are deposited in clusters and usually found on the underside of leaves on potato plants.

The eggs are yellow or orange and visible to the naked eye. They’re not laid in any specific pattern. The eggs are deposited in a small group of similarly colored eggs all in one spot under the leaf.

False potato beetle

False potato beetle.
The false potato beetle has a different color pattern.

The false potato beetle (Leptinotarsa juncta) is confused with the “real” Colorado potato beetle.

They’re very similar and have the same feeding habits. The easiest way to tell the difference between the false beetle and an actual Colorado beetle is by the color of the markings.

False potato beetles:

  • The false beetle has a brown marking on the wing covers that separate them.
  • Black stripes on each elytron
  • Yellow stripes or white stripes between each black stripe (two stripes per wing cover)
  • A yellow lining on the edge of the wing cover
  • Dark markings on the face
  • Orange legs
  • Black and orange antenna

The false beetle actually is less of a threat to plants compared to the Colorado beetle. It’s not considered to be a significant pest.

So if you see the false beetle eating your plants, you’ll have an easier time getting rid of them compared to regular potato bugs.

Colorado potato beetle life cycle

The life cycle of a Colorado potato beetle is nothing special because it’s similar to any other beetle.

Adults will mate and deposit eggs in suitable environments on your host potato plant.

This can be a single plant or rows of plants, depending on how much food is available for them to eat. The more plants you have, the more of an ecosystem of these beetles you can support.

This is why farmers have a tough time managing potato beetles as they grow acres of crops.

The eggs are deposited in small clusters on the bottom of leaves.

Each egg is orangish in color and about 1mm in length. After a few days, depending on environmental conditions, the eggs hatch and the larvae emerge.

A single female has no problem pushing out up to 500 eggs during the 4 weeks of beetle breeding.

The larvae begin feeding on the leaves of the plant and this is where the damage occurs. As they eat, they’ll go through several instars and the final one has them ravaging your crops like no other.

This takes anywhere up to 3 weeks depending on temperature, food availability, competitions, etc.

After they’re done feeding and are ready to pupate into an adult beetle, they’ll drop off the feeder leaves of their host plant- right into the soil. Here, they’ll burrow and pupate.

After 10 days or so, an adult beetle comes out and will continue feeding on the same host plant.

This defines the adult part of the lifecycle and varies depending on the temperature and environmental conditions. Some adults may not come out until next spring in poor conditions.

Do potato beetles bite?

Colorado potato beetles and false potato beetles don’t bite. Their mouthpieces are small and only made to chew on plant matter.

Other beetles are similar which DO bite, so if you’re not familiar with beetle species, assume that it’ll bite.

Put on the proper PPE (gardening gloves, sleeves, boots, etc.) before you handle them or try any DIY remedy to get rid of them.

Where do Colorado potato beetles live?

Colorado potato beetles can be found all over the US as they’re a prominent species.

Nearly every single state has reports of potato beetles, except Nevada, Hawaii, Alaska, and California. They’re found globally in other countries as well, such as Central America, Canada, Europe, and Asia.

Colorado beetles are NOT just found in Colorado and neighboring states.

In fact, they were first discovered in Nebraska.

They’ve distributed themselves all over the planet and have been seen eating away at potential plants globally.

What do Colorado potato beetles eat?

Potato bug eating eggplant leaf.
Potato bugs eat a variety of plants from the same family.

As their name states, Colorado potato beetles eat potatoes. But the damage doesn’t stop there.

These beetles eat a variety of edible veggies:

  • Potatoes
  • Eggplants
  • Tomatoes
  • Nightshade
  • Pepper
  • Ground cherry
  • Pepper plants

Are potato beetles bad?

Yes, potato beetles are a destructive pest and must be controlled. Colorado potato beetles will damage potato plants- both the leaves and the roots.

They also aren’t killed by the winter and will burrow into the soil near their host plant to survive the cold temperatures.

Potato beetles will breed, feed, and consume your plant which can result in a failed harvest.

The larvae of Colorado potato beetles are what do the most damage.

They spend most of their time feeding on the leaves of your plant, which will result in drooping, witling, and dead plants. The leaves are critical to potato plants to carry out photosynthesis and production of the vegetable.

Larvae themselves will consume the moment they’re born from the bottom of leaves and not stop until they become adults, to which they’ll drop from the plant and burrow under the soil to complete pupation into an adult.

Larvae beetles will do the majority of the damage to your crops- up to 80% in total.

Although the adult beetles continue to feed on the plant, they don’t nearly eat as much as the larvae.

This is where you need to step in to manage and control them before they destroy your veggies.

Do potato beetles eat tomato plants?

Yes, Colorado potato beetles eat tomato plants and many other members of the  Solanaceae family.

They’re known to consume tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplants. Some people even plant tomatoes as a decoy plant to protect their potatoes.

Do Colorado potato beetles fly?

Colorado beetles are capable of flight. The younger nymphs don’t have developed wingspans yet, but the adult beetles do.

They can fly for miles to seek out host plants. This renders some approaches like sticky traps or powder repellents to be useful.

They also don’t migrate, but may appear to do so on their miles of distance traveled as they search for a plant to consume.

What are potato bugs attracted to?

Potato bug feasting on a potato plant.
Potato bugs are reckless.

Colorado potato beetles are attracted to plants from the nightshade family, AKA Solanaceae.

These familiar plants provide them with the leaves and plant roots they’re attracted to eating. They breed, eat, and nest within these host plants and will seek them out over miles of distance.

Colorado potato beetle damage

The damage to your veggies from colorado beetles is easily noticeable.

The larvae do the majority of the damage to the plant leaves among your potato, tomato, eggplant, or other nightshade plants.

The obvious sign of damage from these potato bugs is the damage to the foliage. The larvae consume the younger, tender leaves and this results in holes of random sizes around the outside of the leaves.

They’ll eat up all the leaf contents until the veins are left behind.

After they’re done feasting on the leaves, they’ll turn to the vines.

The tubers will bulk up by consuming plant matter during their larval molts. They do have a schedule that they use to feed. So you may notice that the damage to your veggies varies over time.

The majority of the damage is done during the first 25% of their bulking cycle and the last 25%.

Damage slows down during the middle section of their bulking, accounting for only 10% of damage to your potatoes.

Plants that face extensive damage may become stunted and fail to flower or produce vegetables during season.

Here are some other signs of potato bug damage:

  • Eaten leaves with only the veins remaining
  • Vine damage
  • Visible beetle activity
  • Plant stunting
  • Failed flowering
  • Damaged leaflets
  • Holes in foliage
  • Jagged edges
  • Visible eggs on leaves

How to get rid of colorado potato beetles organically

Potato bug on a potato plant.
Learn how to get rid of potato bugs with these natural DIY remedies.

Here are some home remedies you can use to get rid of these beetles naturally.

Remember that each situation is different and no single DIY method “fits all.”

You’ll have to play around and try out a few of them to see what works for you. I suggest pairing the various techniques outlined here for colorado potato beetle control, management, and elimination for the best results.

You can get success easier with running multiple approaches rather than trying out just one at a time.

Regardless, try them out and see what works for you.

Use row covers

Row covers are the classic, quick, and effective solution to beetles, flies, birds, rodents, reptiles, and nearly everything else in between.

Row covers will help physically block out bugs from ever reaching your potato plants while still letting them bask in the sunlight. Large plantations and farmers who raise crops utilize these covers to help them reduce the number of destroyed harvests from pests.

You can buy commercial-grade row covers online.

The key to making them work effectively and efficiently is to get them perfectly fitted to your potato plants. If you have them growing in a plot, you’ll want to buy a cover to fit each row of plants you have.

Of course, this is more practical for serious farmers who are growing rows of potatoes. If you just have a single plant, then you should skip this approach.

Once you get the cover, you’ll want to make sure that the fabric fits snug against the soil and doesn’t let any beetles through.

This will also block off other bugs from coming to your potato plants when used properly.

There are also multiple types of row covers available.

Consider using floating row covers to allow your potato plants to still get air exchange and light for photosynthesis.

Plant beetle “trap crops”

Plants that repel beetles.
You can use plants to do the job.

Trap crops are exactly what they sound like.

These are specific plants you can place next to your potato crops that attract the beetles over. This way, they eat the traps rather than your potato plants.

Similar to companion planting (which is covered next), trap crops must be placed strategically around your yard for the best results.

The colorado beetles will spot the trap crops first as they enter your yard. This then provokes them to eat these decoy crops rather than move further into your garden to eat your precious potatoes.

Note that the trap crops don’t prevent beetles from getting to potatoes.

But rather, they’re to be used as a gauging tool to see if you have a possible beetle problem.

The trap crops, once infested, tell you that there are beetles present. This is when you take action and do something to get rid of them.

Planting trap crops also help reduce the number of beetles that eat your potato plants because they’re distributed between all your veggies.

You’ll have to find out what grows in your hardiness zone. Some of the most popular trap crops are:

  • Horse nettle
  • Tomato
  • Cherry
  • Buffalo bur
  • Other potato plants
  • Other plants from the Solanaceae family

You’re basically setting up decoy plants to control the colorado beetles.

Companion plant

A flowering plant that potato bugs hate.
Use plants that repel colorado beetles.

You can always use the power of plants to repel potato beetles.

There are a few varieties that beetles hate and you can companion plant these with your potato plants. In other words, you’ll mix them together strategically to make a perfectly camouflaged barrier to keep the beetles out.

This works on colorado potato beetles and other beetles as well.

Here are some plants you can grow to keep them out:

  • Catnip
  • Marigold
  • Tansy
  • Lavender
  • Basil
  • Garlic
  • Citronella
  • Cosmos
  • Borage
  • Dill
  • Lemon thyme
  • Parsley
  • Peppermint
  • Onion
  • Oregano
  • Radish
  • Rue
  • Stone root
  • Petunias
  • Radish

Many different types keep beetles away.

Most have some kind of strong, pungent odor that’ll deter them. There are many more online, but these should get you started. Find what grows in your USDA hardiness zone.

Go out and buy a few seedlings and plant them (or buy already established ones) for fast results.

Plant them strategically around your potato plants. You can go between each plant or around the perimeter of your entire yard.

Or you can focus on high activity areas where you see lots of Colorado potato beetles.

This is a natural way to get rid of them without having to use toxic pesticides. There are many more plants than this, but this should be a decent selection.

You’re bound to find something in that list that you can plant.

What eats the Colorado potato beetle?

Ladybug crawling on a plant foraging for potato bug larvae.
Ladybugs help eat larvae.

Here are some predators that naturally eat Colorado beetles.

You can use them to help you control, manage, and eradicate them from your yard entirely. These potato beetle predators do the dirty work for you and then leave without hurting your plants.

Ladybugs

Ladybugs can be bought in bulk to help manage Colorado beetles.

These little critters consume beetle larvae, eggs, and anything else they can get into their mouths.

Although ladybugs are harmless to potato plants, they’re definitely a force to be reckoned with against beetles.

The best part is that these beneficial insects leave your crops after they’ve eaten up all the problem pests.

So they’re really low effort. You can order them in bulk online and release them in batches in your garden.

They’ll forage for the beetles (and other pests) and eat them up. Then they’ll leave on their own. Read and follow all directions on the package.

Beauveria bassiana

This is a microbial fungus that attacks a variety of pests found in the garden. It’s effective at killing adult and larvae colorado beetles and doesn’t harm most strains of potato plants.

You can order this stuff by the bottle online. Use as directed.

Lacewings

Lacewings consume beetle eggs and larvae just like ladybugs.

You can buy them to help control the pest population in your yard. Lacewings are specific to some areas, so you’ll need to research to see if they’ll thrive in your area.

You can order them online and release them into your garden to help kill the beetles over time.

They work by disturbing the lifecycle and preventing the young from growing up. Use as directed.

Stink bugs

Two-spotted stink bugs have been reported to prey on Colorado beetles.

These are harder to raise, but if you have them native to your area, you can research on how to attract them to your garden. They’re all available online.

Parasitic wasps

Parasitic wasp on a plant leaf.
Potato bugs have a lot of natural predators. Parasitic wasps are one of them.

Some parasitic wasps will wreak havoc on Colorado beetles.

Some of the most common types are Myiopharus doryphorae and Edvovum puttereri.

These flies parasitize the beetles and prey upon them for a delicious meal. You’ll have to find out if they’re suitable for your area.

Bt

Bt, or Bacillus thuringiensis, is a strain of microbial bacteria that can kill the larvae.

Killing them prevents them from growing up and thus stops the life cycle of the beetles. Look for Bt-t (Bacillus thuringiensis var. tenebrionis), as they’re especially effective against beetles.

Use as directed.

Some colorado beetles will not be affected when applied, so you’ll want to monitor the effectiveness of Bt against them.

There are strains of these beetles that have developed resistance to Bt, so this isn’t a solution that’s guaranteed to work.

However, if it does kill the younger larvae, you should have nearly a 100% kill rate.

Spined soldier bugs

Spined soldiers can also be used as a natural predator for potato bugs. These are harder to attract because they require a specific environment to flourish.

They’re commonly found across crop fields because they feast on over 90 different species that are destructive to crops.

They’ve been reported to prey on flea beetles, corn borers, diamondback moths, corn earworms, imported cabbageworm, beet armyworms, cabbage loopers, and Colorado potato beetles.

You can buy them in bulk and release them as directed.

They’ve been used to control pest populations in many different crops such as beans, celery, eggplant, onions, cotton, cucurbits, alfalfa, apples, celery, soy, and tomatoes.

Diatomaceous earth

Diatomaceous earth DIY pest repellent.
Diatomaceous earth is an awesome pest killer and repellent.

Diatomaceous earth is a popular way to kill beetles.

This is a fine powder that’s completely natural. Look for the food-grade DE, not the pool grade. The powder works by dehydrating the beetles that contact it by cutting them up with small incisions in their hard exoskeleton.

This slowly kills them because they dehydrate over time. You can sprinkle it around your potato plants and garden perimeter to secure it from beetles and other hard-shelled pests (roaches, silverfish, fleas, etc.).

The trick to getting the beetles to touch the DE is to use a fine layer- so fine that it’s barely visible to you.

You can line each plant in a box of this powder so that each potato is contained. Then line the entire perimeter of the plot.

And then your entire yard for an additional layer of protection.

DE is completely safe for plants, people, and pets when used correctly.

However, I’d advise you to use PPE and minimize risk when applying DE.

Keep animals and others away from it to avoid disturbing it after you apply it. Rain and wind will require you to re-apply it again. Use as directed.

Does vinegar kill potato bugs?

Vinegar assortment for killing bugs on plants.
Vinegar does kill potato bugs.

Vinegar can be used to kill potato bugs because it has high acidity content. This is lethal to them and will wipe them out in a jiffy.

All you need?

Dilute equal parts of water and vinegar and pour the solution into a spray bottle. Then spray it on your potato plants to kill adults and nymphs.

With direct contact, vinegar kills beetle eggs also.

Be sure to spray above and under the leaves of your plant. Vinegar does harm some plants when the concentration is too high, so you should test it on a single part first before applying it to the entire plant.

You can also use apple cider vinegar if you want to keep it organic since most ACV is marketed as an organic product.

Therefore, it’s easy to find organic vinegar for those growing organic potatoes.

Plant early potato varieties

You can utilize the power of early harvest to deter pests.

Beetles will usually start chewing up your plant early in the season when the temperatures pick up.

And then they’ll breed, eat, and emerge even more as the season goes on until peak activity. If you plant early potato varieties, this lets you harvest before the most active period of the colorado potato beetles, which means you can get more of the harvest for yourself rather than them.

Some early potatoes are Norland, Yukon Gold, and Caribe. Consider trying these potatoes if your hardiness zone tolerates them.

Plant resistant varieties

Some potatoes are hardy to beetles, such as Russet Burbank, which can be almost completely resistant to many beetle species.

This can help you produce for the season. Pests will be one less thing to worry about.

However, even though they’re resistant to beetles, this doesn’t mean that OTHER pests are shielded against.

Remove potato beetles manually

Don’t be afraid to remove them by hand.

You can use a pair of gloves to pick them off when you come across a beetle and toss it into a bucket of soapy water.

You can pick them off manually, though this may take some time depending on how many potato plants you have and the severity of the beetle problem.

Their eggs and larvae are also visible, so you can pick those off also. This will diminish their numbers over time, but it is labor-intensive so may not be practical for everyone.

However, it is natural and completely organic.

Plus, it works.

You can also use a handheld vacuum cleaner to suck them off your potato plants. The vacuum should be enough to remove adult beetles, larvae, and eggs that are stuck on plants.

Any typical shop vac should do the trick. Be sure to empty the collection bin so that other pests are attracted to the beetles or you don’t relocate them!

Since the beetles aren’t that good at sticking to the potato plant, they should come right off with minimal suction. This way you don’t damage your plants.

Build a tanglefoot trap

You can build your own sticky trap at home to catch beetles and a whole lot more. All you need are some basic materials.

The trap works by sticking to any CPB that walks over it and can also stop them from climbing up the stalk of your eggplants, tomatoes, potatoes, or other nightshade plants.

What you’ll need:

  • Tanglefoot paste
  • Packing tape

How to build the trap:

  • The “trap” is as basic as can be. Just wrap a piece of tape around the stems of your plants so that it fully encircles the plant base. You’re just putting a ring of tape around the stem. That’s it.
  • Afterward, take the tanglefoot paste and put a thin layer around the tape.
  • The paste MUST go all the way around the tape.
  • Spread a 1” wide layer (it should fully span across the tape).
  • You can also put additional traps around the other parts of the plant (petiole, internodes, or lateral buds) with tanglefoot paste.
  • Tanglefoot is widely available online and usually comes ready to go.
  • Read the directions and use as directed. It’s safe for most plants, people, and pets. Sensitive individuals and animals need to be careful.
  • You should keep other beings away from the plot anyway so that nothing is ruined or disturbed during the process.

Put some sticky tape

Sticky tape can be purchased cheaply at your local hardware store.

Just wrap this around the base of your plants and any lateral buds to help stop beetles from getting to the leaves. Use as directed.

Replace the tape when it doesn’t catch the beetles anymore. Most tapes are damaged by UV light from the sun, so when you notice that the tape doesn’t catch as many beetles as before, it’s time to replace the tape.

Use beetle traps

There are different beetle traps you can buy that are specifically made for beetles. You can pick a few of them up at your local hardware store.

They usually have an hourglass shape and some bait for the beetles to lure them directly through a one-way entrance. There are many different designs, so do your research and find a promising one. Use as directed.

Note: Don’t overload your yard with traps.

There’s an effect of diminishing returns when you use too many of them. They start to become typically less effective when not used properly. Most traps will have spacing rules that you should follow.

This is to maximize the bait used as a lure to get the beetles trapped.

When you have a bunch of traps all running at the same time, nearby, this dilutes the overall efficacy.

Use a vacuum and soap technique

Soapy water is a natural pest killer you can make at home.
Soapy water kills potato bugs and keeps them off your veggies.

Here’s a powerful way to control CPB without the use of dangerous poisons.

All you need is a shop vac and some soapy water. Make the soap water by mixing 2 tablespoons of dish detergent with a quart of water.

Then pour it into the shop vac or canister vacuum. Make sure that your vacuum is capable of sucking up water- do NOT use a vacuum rated for DRY USE ONLY.

You need a WET/DRY vacuum for this to work. And the dish soap can be anything from Dawn dish soap to generic store brand.

Fill up the canister to an inch of the soap water. Then go down your potato rows and suck off any beetles you come across.

They’ll get sucked up directly into the soapy water where they’ll be killed by the surface tension of the solution.

Be sure to check the undersides of leaves and around stems to make sure you suck up as many CPB as possible.

Repeat this daily until the beetles are gone. Remember that these potato bugs will hatch frequently during the summer months, so you’ll want to comb your potato rows daily to make sure you suck up all the newly born beetle larvae.

Empty the canister after you’re done each time.

This is a quick and effective way to remove potato bugs and kill them at the same time.

Sure, it’s not as “hands-off” as the other methods (traps, sticky tape, etc.) but it works.

Use straw

Use straw mulch and mulch regularly to help keep the population of beetles down.

The straw will allow predators to seek out the beetles and their larvae and eat them.

And regular mulching helps turn over the soil so the beetles and nymphs are exposed to predators. Straw is easy for larger predators to crawl into the soil and find the potato beetles to prey upon.

You can replace any tight mulch with straw. This allows natural predators that eat colorado potato beetles like ladybugs, lacewings, and predatory carnivorous beetles to find them and kill them.

Will neem oil kill potato bugs?

Neem oil for pest control.
Neem oil is a natural essential oil that protects your plants from bugs.

Neem oil can be an effective pest killer. If you want to keep your potato harvest organic, neem oil is the way to go.

You can buy pure neem oil and dilute it with water. There are many recipes online for you to use as guidance. Neem is effective and generally won’t harm your potato plants when used correctly.

However, you should only spray the neem oil during the early morning or late evening to avoid sunlight. The rays from the sun overheat the plant when neem oil is present.

Also, be sure to rinse the plant after spraying to clean off all the excess oil. Neem oil has a residual effect and lasts quite some time after you apply.

You may find some recipes calling for dish soap which can help make it last for an extended period.

Note that some people and pets may be sensitive to neem oil.

Do your research and read all labels on the package before using it. Use as directed.

Rotate your crops

You should be practicing regular crop rotation regardless of pests or no pests.

Potato beetles will hide out in the soil throughout winter and emerge in the spring. This is why the cold weather doesn’t kill potato beetles.

They overwinter to protect themselves from the harsh temperatures and will burrow into the soil near your host plants.

During this time, you should rotate your potato plants.

Planting in the same exact plot only makes it easier for the potato beetles to mate, deposit eggs, and consume your potato plants.

Rotating the crop location proves to make it more difficult for them to track down a new host plant, especially if you protect it well with natural repellents, traps, and sprays. You’re giving your potatoes a “fresh start” by rotating them.

Although you won’t stop all the colorado beetles from eating your potato plants, the simple practice of crop rotation helps significantly drop their population.

Sequential planting

Another overlooked technique? Sequential planting.

This is where you plant your potatoes to flower at different times, rather than at the same time. This will reduce the number of destroyed harvests because it limits the number of colorado beetles your yard can support at once.

Remember how these pests only breed to as much as your garden’s ecosystem can handle?

Well, if your flowers bloom at different times of the year, then the number of bugs you can handle at any given time is limited.

This will also help attract predators to control the colorado beetles that emerge at different seasons throughout the year.

Keep your yard tidy

Clean yard to eradicate crane flies.
A clean yard proves to be less attractive to pests.

Okay, so even the cleanest gardens will still have bugs.

That’s normal and part of a healthy ecosystem. Bugs eat other bugs to keep them in control.

However, when your yard is overrun with a specific type of pest, you’ll need to take action to clean it up.

This is often time-consuming and many people put it off because of the sheer number of hours it takes to clean up a messy yard.

If you’re extremely busy, or just don’t have the time/energy, consider hiring a professional landscaping company to do it for you.

Having a clean garden helps reduce the number of pests you’ll have on your property- and this applies to beetles and more.

But if you’re willing to put in the work, you’ll want to follow best practices for a pest-free yard:

Remove all stagnant water sources

Water that doesn’t move attracts mosquitoes, fleas, and other bugs that drink out of it.

Excess moisture also contributes to higher humidity in your yard, which is a magnet for bugs.

Don’t overwater your plants

This is self-explanatory. It’s bad for your plants, the environment, and your yard.

Don’t over-fertilize

When you sprinkle more plant food/fertilizer than is needed, your plants may not consume all of it.

This will lead to the buildup of rich nutrients just lying around in your soil and the runoff when you water your plants. Bugs will eat this precious source of nutrients.

Prune your plants

Keep your plants clean and trimmed. Remove leaf litter and any other unnecessary plants.

Keep the lawn mowed

Do regular lawn maintenance to keep it clean and free of pests. Don’t forget to clean up the lawn clippings when you mow.

Unclog gutters

Any water runways need to be free of debris so water can drain properly from your yard.

Mulch regularly

You should practice regular soil mulching to keep turnover high.

This will expose pests that are hiding a few inches under the soil or overwintering. It also attracts predators to come prey on those bugs (including potato beetles).

Remove clutter

Any objects, equipment, storage, or other junk that’s unnecessary or takes up space needs to be removed.

These just provide places for pests to hide, breed and establish nests. You should get rid of them or secure them so bugs can’t enter.

Secure trash bins

Your trash container, dumpster, or other waste disposal container is a prime target for ALL sorts of bugs, rodents, birds, and animals.

Ensure that it’s locked and secure from the smallest pests that can sneak through.

Some pests are extremely annoying to deal with once they build a nest in your waste bin (cockroaches).

Secure recycle containers

Pest-proof recycle container.
A pest-free recycle bin means less headaches in the future.

Your recycling containers should be kept free of pests by regular cleaning.

Also, make sure that bugs can’t get through the container. They’ll eat up the sugar residues leftover on soda cans which will superpower them.

Keep patio furniture clean

Along with minimizing any clutter, patio furniture is no exception.

Some materials like wicker provide plenty of hiding places for pests.

So you’ll want to take the proper steps to protect your furniture and keep bugs out. You can do everything from using essential oils, powders, traps, and regular cleaning.

When to call a professional exterminator

If you have a harvest coming up that you can’t take any risks on, then hire a professional to do it right.

The information outlined on this page is for backyard gardeners who just have a few plots of potato plants.

However, if you’re growing potatoes commercially, you should have access to commercial or industrial solutions.

For everyone else, you can always consider hiring the help of a professional exterminator. Most will give you a free consultation, which you can use to your benefit to ensure that the pest you’re dealing with is indeed a potato beetle.

Compare quotes. Do some research. Read reviews.

Ask about alternative, or green, pest solutions. Many larger companies offer natural pest solutions to minimize the toxic residues commonly used in commercial poisons.

How to get rid of colorado potato beetle larvae

The larvae of Colorado potato beetles can be controlled by using a variety of home remedies.

Since the larva does the most damage, you’ll want to focus on getting rid of them ASAP.

The adults are responsible for about 25% of the total damage of the crop, while the beetle larvae, especially in their final instar, do the majority of the crop damage.

They’re feeding to get ready to pupate in the soil and overwinter for the long, cold season.

You can get rid of the larvae by using these techniques:

  • Manually remove them by hand
  • Use a shop vac and suck them up
  • Prune and remove any damaged leaves
  • Scrape off eggs and destroy them by using soapy water
  • Spray neem oil regularly
  • Use a combination of sticky tape, sticky traps, and tanglefoot traps to catch any larvae
  • Regularly Check your leaves for beetle activity
  • Spray vinegar to kill them upon contact
  • Use ladybugs to eat them nymphs
  • Attract parasitic wasps to prey on them
  • Use green lacewings to control the young
  • Use Bt for microbial control
  • Sprinkle diatomaceous earth or boric acid safely around the perimeter of your yard

Depending on the number of beetle larvae you have eating your edibles, you can try out these techniques to get rid of them. Use them in tandem.

Don’t rely on just a single DIY remedy.

How to get rid of potato bugs inside the house

Potato bug on a tomato leaf.
These beetles rarely are seen inside your house.

Beetles entering your property are due to exploited entry points on your house.

After all, they don’t just magically appear inside your home.

There are likely cracks, crevices, or other entryways on your home that the potato bugs are using to get in. They also could be hitchhiking a ride on your harvest.

After you pull your potatoes, the potato bugs could be using your basket or harvest containers to get into your home.

Here are some tips to keep potato bugs out of your house:

  • Thoroughly evaluate your home for any entry points
  • Caulk or seal any cracks and crevices
  • Caulk foundation cracks
  • Replace damaged screens on your windows and door
  • Block the gaps under your doorways
  • Seal up extra gaps around plumbing outlets
  • Clean up crawl spaces or block them off
  • Use natural repellents around entry points
  • Plant pest-repelling foliage around your home
  • Keep your yard clean
  • Remove any plants that contact your property
  • Get rid of trellises
  • Keep your chimney clean
  • Sprinkle diatomaceous earth or boric acid around doors and windows

The key is to keep your home well maintained so that the bugs can’t get through. That’s all there is to it.

Easier said than done, but if you’re tired of bugs coming through, that’s what needs to be taken care of.

You’ll need to dedicate a weekend or so to get your home up to par. But once you do that, you just need to focus on keeping it tidy.

Will Sevin dust kill Colorado potato beetles?

Colorado potato beetles have developed resistance to many different sprays and poisons.

They’re an extremely versatile pest that can render malathion, carbaryl, bacillus thuringiensis, Sevin, and Beauveria bassiana useless. If you apply Sevin dust and notice the potato bugs are still present, they may be resistant to the pesticide and you’ll have to find another solution.

Note that Sevin dust’s effectiveness depends on a variety of factors:

  • Wind can blow the dust away
  • Rain will reduce the effectiveness of the application
  • Sevin dust has a 12-hour effectiveness period
  • Beetles must contact the dust for it to be effective

How it’s used makes a huge difference in how effective Sevin dust works against the Colorado beetles.

You must follow the directions on the label exactly as shown for maximum efficacy.

Note that Sevin dust is NOT a preventative- it doesn’t “stop” potato beetles. It kills them and should only be used for active, visible beetle infestations.

If you don’t see beetles and you apply the insecticide, it does nothing and you just wasted time and money applying the poison.

Alternative sprays for potato beetles

Other than Sevin dust, you can use a variety of different pest killers that are speculated to work on colorado beetles.

I say “speculated” because, again, they may have built resistance to the spray you use.

However, if you’re depending on a spray to handle the CPB, here are some pesticides:

  • Spinosad
  • Horticultural oils
  • Insecticidal soap

Look for sprays with carbaryl or malathion as active ingredients as they’re both effective against beetles.

I would NOT resort to using these chemical sprays because they’re chock full of dangerous compounds that you should avoid- especially near your edible plants.

You should focus on using natural or organic home remedies to get rid of the colorado beetles rather than using sprays and poisons.

How to stop potato beetles permanently

Although it’s difficult to completely get rid of potato beetles, you can reduce their numbers by practicing the remedies outlined throughout this guide.

Here’s a quick summary of what you can do to keep the beetles away from your vegetables:

  • Combine a cocktail of natural sprays (vinegar, apple cider, soapy water) and spray your veggies regularly
  • Keep your yard clean and tidy
  • Set up sticky traps, sticky tape, and tanglefoot traps
  • Attract natural predators (ladybugs, lacewings, solider bugs)
  • Prune your plants
  • Use diatomaceous earth or boric acid around your potatoes
  • Use companion planting strategies
  • Plant early harvest or sequential crops
  • Spray neem oil
  • Apply Bt
  • Use straw and mulch often
  • Don’t overwater and don’t over-fertilize
  • Use crop covers
  • Hire a professional when needed

Further reading

Here are some additional references you may find useful:

Did you get rid of the Colorado potato bugs?

Colorado potato beetle on a stalk.
You can greatly reduce the number of beetles chomping up your veggies.

You now have a solid foundation of home remedies you can use at home to get rid of the potato bugs. Try out a few of them. See what works for you.

Don’t rely on any single technique to control the potato beetles.

Be patient and you’ll have success. A beetle-free yard. Plenty of ripe potatoes. And no damaged leaves. All the things you SHOULD already have, right?

If you have any questions, post a comment below and I’ll get back to you ASAP.

Or if you’ve dealt with colorado beetles before, help out a fellow reader with your tips and tricks. Newbies are probably panicking over these annoying pests.

Lastly, if you found that this guide needs information updated, needs work, or if you found it useful, please let me know!

Consider telling a friend if you found this article somewhat helpful =]!

Thanks for reading.

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