Colorado potato beetles are here - how to protect tomatoes early?

kygirl99May 12, 2008

I had a horrible time last year with the colorado potato beetle. They didn't bother my tomatoes too much, but destroyed my potato plants. I tried every organic pesticide out there with no luck. I also tried picking them off and killing them separately, both the adults and the larvae, but there were just too many (within a week or two, there seemed to be more than a thousand in my garden last year.) There were a few on my tomatoes, but they were too busy ravaging the potatoes to care about moving on to another crop. I was able to pluck off the few that were on my tomatoes.

Don't know if this made a difference, but they seemed to "find" my tomatoes late last year - mid to late July. They were on opposite ends of the garden from my potatoes, so about 30 feet away with green beans planted in between the two areas.

Now I'm worried because I saw my first colorado potato beetle a few days ago and it was in the soil around my tomato plants. I killed it, but I know there's more just waiting to come out.

Is there any way to control the little pests before they ravage my tomatoes as they did my potatoes last year? My potatoes aren't even up yet, so I'm sure they'll opt for the leafy green crop that's there rather than patiently wait for the potatoes to surface.

My tomato plants thank you in advance.

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You have to pick them off and squash them by hand. I will NEVER grow potatoes again. It took me 8 years to completely get rid of them after growing potatoes ONCE!

Look under the leaves off your plants,especially eggplants,and get 'em while they are young.

You may want to post this in the "Pests and Diseases" forum for more help.

Here is a link that might be useful: forum

    Bookmark   May 12, 2008 at 9:46AM
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thanks, bootster. you're right - potatoes aren't worth it. maybe I will skip the potatoes next year. ugh.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2008 at 10:13AM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

Get a hold of some 5% Rotenone ( organic and the 2% doesn't work) and control the larvae with that.

For the adults buy Colorado Potato Beetle Beater ( can Google it) which is also organic and works jsut fine. It's one of the many BT ( Bacillus thuriengensis) products used for organic control but you must use the one I jsut referred to which is the San Diego strain of BT.

Can also use the Beetle Beater product in conjunction with the Rotenone for more complete control and no I don't mean to mix them in one application.


    Bookmark   May 12, 2008 at 2:23PM
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I too had a horrible time with colorado potato beetles last year. I soaked my garden with parasitic nematodes this spring and I see a huge difference. I have seen very few this year. In my neighbor's garden 200 feet away, they are swarming the plants. Will they travel to mine? I am praying that this works!!!

Parasitic nematodes are microscopic organisms that invade host pests and kill them from the inside out.

I got mine from aribco organics. they have a very informative website.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   May 23, 2008 at 1:43AM
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Update!! My plants are beautiful and cpb free, I have found a few dead beetles in the soil around my plants. My neighbor's garden is also now beetle free, thanks to the geese that came and ate every last bug!! I want to adopt a goose!!

    Bookmark   May 26, 2008 at 10:43AM
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Thanks for all the info. I ended up ordering the Colorado Potato Beetle Beater and that has killed the adults for a solid week, although I'm noticing they're starting to return so another dose is in order.

I tried to find the 5% Rotenone online but couldn't. Where do you buy that?

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 5:33PM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

I tried to find the 5% Rotenone online but couldn't. Where do you buy that?


Check Johnny's Selected Seeds b'c that's where I bought it but I haven't checked lately b'c I haven't had any CPB problems where I now live.

I'm a bit surprised that Google didn't give you some sources.

Maybe even try Peaceful Valley Farms in CA as a last resort.

If you're getting the adults fine, but the orange eggs laid before you got them are still going to go to the larval form.

By killing off the adults you should have less larvae emerging and that may mean that you can control/prevent that just by manual means.


    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 5:48PM
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thanks! I found the 2% kind, but not the 5%, when I first looked. I'll go check again.

I have been squishing lots of orange eggs by hand!

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 6:57PM
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carolyn, I looked at johnny's but they only have a 1.1% version of rotonene. the link is below. they didn't have it listed at peaceful valley farms.

sigh. I guess I will keep squishing orange eggs by hand! (I do wear a glove if I'm feeling squeamish.)

Here is a link that might be useful: johnny's

    Bookmark   May 29, 2008 at 11:44AM
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Potato beetles have produced larvae and are eating our heirloom tomatoes. Killed many adults but not enough. What is safest organically that will work at this stage? tomatoes are flowering & producing fruit but some fruit is eaten.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2008 at 8:07PM
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