Thursday, June 2, 2011

Colorado Potato Beetles

Over a month ago I began my quest for these:

My goal?  To find only a few and eliminate them before they lay eggs.  My first objective?  To keep an eye on my potato patch so I don't find any for a while, then spot the first arrivals.  These guys overwinter in the soil, then crawl out when the potato plants are pretty far along.  I planted the potatoes March 19 and didn't see any of these guys until about 3 weeks ago.  Next year, I'll keep a closer eye open for eggs.  I still haven't spotted any, but wait -- maybe I have.  Look at this picture, very bottom, 1/3 over from the right (click on the photo to enlarge it).  Those yellow-brown sacs look like eggs.  Shoot, think I'll find them tomorrow?
Of course, the eggs have got to be there because I've found plenty of these.
"Why are your fingers orange?" says Virginia.

Sorry folks, but that's the best way to get rid of these pests.  Squish them.  Queasy gardeners might carry a cup of soapy water to drop them in, but that's sort of like going to a gym to exercise when you can step outside for a run.  When you see 'em, you squish 'em.

By the way, these larvae come in all sizes -- from pinpoint to 1/2 inch, growing to full size in an average of 5.8 days.  I overheard these two talking, "Hey, if we double-team it, we can finish off this leaf in no time, but watch out for....pfffft."

Every morning when I tour the garden to see what's happened since yesterday, I devote 15-30 minutes walking along each row of potatoes.  I can't do 2 rows at once; I'll miss too many.  Funny thing, sometimes I knock a fellow onto the ground and can't find it.  I used to think maybe that would kill it because it might not have the energy to find another leaf.  Now I've discovered that if it's old enough, it might just burrow into the earth because that's where it goes anyway to develop wings and a harder shell.

Now that I have the potato beetles under control (fingers crossed), I mosey over to the green beans and guess what?
OH NO!  It's not a ladybug.  It's that darn Mexican bean beetle.  Another squishing campaign begins.

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