A Simple Way of Thwarting Potato Beetles

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Here’s a simple, but effective way of keeping one pest out of your plants!

To avoid the Colorado potato beetle, Leptinotarsa decemlineata, an insect with a worldwide distribution that decimates the leaves of potato plants (Solanum tuberosum) and can severely hinder their production, just plant your potatoes not in the vegetable garden, all grouped together, but in the flower bed, scattered here and there among the other plants.

Many varieties of potato bloom readily and produce pretty flowers, so fit well into a flower bed. Photo: Keith Weller, Wikimedia Commons

Adult Colorado potato beetles are attracted to potato plants by the distinctive odor of their foliage and find their host more readily when the potatoes are planted in dense rows, as in a vegetable garden, concentrating the smell. But when the potato plants are scattered among other plants, especially plants with distinct odors of their own (and many ornamental flowers appear highly scented to insects), the problem largely disappears. They just can’t find their host plant!

Sometimes one or two of the second generation of potato beetles manage to find the potato plants in midsummer, but they won’t have time to do much damage: the production of tubers will be well under way by then and they won’t really hinder potato production. Just pull them off and squish them if their presence bothers you.

The following year, repeat the same treatment … applying crop rotation by planting that year’s potatoes in different spots than the previous year.

Thanks to your cunning planting, you’ll soon become the potato beetles’ worst enemy!

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