What does the potato beetle look like?
The potato beetle belongs, from an entomological point of view, to the vast family of Chryso-melids. More precisely, it belongs to the species Leptinotarsa decemlineata Say, is very common both in Italy and in the rest of Europe, and has a colour which can range from yellow to white, with longitudinal black stripes, and a rather characteristic black mark at the height of the prothorax. Due to its character it tends to attack mainly potatoes, but it does not disdain tomatoes or other similar plants from the point of view of structure.
Because of this tendency it is feared by both large and small growers, often struggling with massive infestations capable of irreparably damaging the harvest of the season, while it does not represent a major threat within the domestic environment. Suffice it to say that, in the twentieth century, spreading like wildfire in the United States, it completely devastated all the crops present causing a real scourge both in the North and in the South.
What does the potato bug feed on?
This beetle, which is harmful to potatoes, is able to cause damage of various kinds and magnitudes to the leaves of the plant. It is very voracious, which is why it feeds on shrubs and weakens the plant to the point of killing it: it can only survive its attack if it produces lateral shoots that allow it to survive the ferocity of the potato beetle.
This insect also has a very high life expectancy: it is vigorous and long-lived, so much so that in just twelve months it can produce even three generations. As soon as new adults emerge from the soil in which they have developed, they immediately start to damage the plants; however, the larvae themselves are also potentially harmful to potatoes and tomatoes, which is why this beetle is so feared by farmers.
How can we remedy the yellow and black beetle attacks?
Is there a way to defend against the beetle’s fierce and continuous attacks? Yes, but it is a good idea to clear the field immediately of any possible doubts about this and make it clear, once and for all, that it is not at all advisable to use chemicals to do so. The why is soon said: to use this solution means damaging the flowering of the plants and exposing anyone who comes into contact with potatoes or tomatoes grown in the field that you think you can disinfect in this way to the risk of intoxication.
It is much better to divert the attacks of the coleoptera harmful to potatoes, perhaps by growing one plant out of season and making it attract the Dorifora: by converging the coleoptera attacks on an isolated plant it will be much easier to eliminate a significant number of specimens at once. The thuringensis bacillus or pyrethrum can be used to eradicate the potato insect, but it is always better to get rid of the yellow and black beetle without resorting, as said, to the aid of chemical products which, if vaporized on a plant, can create not insignificant damage.
How to get rid of the potato beetle without damaging the ecosystem
There is yet another way to solve this very annoying problem upstream and ensure that the beetle that is harmful to potatoes does not damage the crop. To put it into practice, it is necessary to study, in the sense that it is essential to learn to recognise the eggs of this insect. Noticing them when they are still on the ground, or at most on the leaves of the plant we are lovingly looking after, gives us the possibility of eliminating the insect manually and economically, without resorting to any chemical product.
Also because, it is right to point this out, using insecticides could cause serious problems to the ecosystem: an intervention carried out without any expertise would eliminate all traces of bees or other insects that are fundamental for the environment and for the fields, thus having the opposite effect. It is better to ask for help from a company expert in disinfestations, if only to be sure that the yellow and black beetle disappears from our fields and no longer pays attention to the safety of the plants.