Beetle demons

Possibly starting tonight, I will be waging an organic war against the Colorado Potato Beetle. Once again, despite row covers and early squishing of the adult beetles, the larva have won out. Wait. I should restate that. At least one row of potatoes has been reduced to twigs. Another row isn’t far behind. Three other rows still have foliage. The response between the different types of potatoes has been interesting. I need to uncover all rows and see where we stand. Still, for the defoliated La Ratte potatoes, I am scared to look at them. Larva are everywhere – the hideous things. Squeamishly, I squash the larva as they are so heavy, they have found ways to escape the row cover and are now on the outside of the fabric. The really fat ones actually “pop.” There are still adults around, too. They are laying eggs everywhere. I can manage the tomatoes, but what I am having a hard time with is the horsenettle (solanaceous weed) – it is garden wide. Anyway, I plan on conducting an experiment. I tried Neem oil on the La Ratte row without success. I have two new reagents to try – pyrethrin (from chrysanthemum seeds) and BT (Bacillus thuringiensis – a non-pathogenic soil bacterium). Both are approved organic products. We are beyond control for our current crop. My hope is I can decrease the numbers that will return to the soil for next year by killing off these abundant larva. Jordan is ready to burn the row. Though there would be some satisfaction with that, I am not sure how it would affect the potatoes still connected to the twigs. I guess the same could be said for using a pyrethrin or bacteria product. Is there any comfort that these two products are derived naturally?

Regardless of the outcome of this experiment, does anyone have any advice for the control of Colorado Potato Beetles long-term? Comments, suggestions, success stories or woeful tails are all welcome. Thanks.

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