What do Potato Bugs Eat might be a silly question to ask, but it is equally important when it comes to getting rid of them!
If you ever grew potatoes, then you must have seen the infestation of small, extraterrestrial insects, crawling on the surface of leaves and near the roots. They can be quite a mess for your potato plants. They are known as potato bugs, and if you have questions hovering in your mind like What do Potato Bugs Eat and how to get rid of them, then you are at the right place!
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What are Potato Bugs?
Potato bugs are classified into two different categories:
- The Jerusalem Cricket
- The Colorado Potato Beetle
The Jerusalem Crickets or potato bugs (Stenopelmatus fuscus) are discovered in the western and southern regions of the United States. They are a group of wingless insects having large, human-like jaws, heads, and an alien-like appearance. Potato bugs are large and can be 2-3 inches in length. They also have amber yellow heads, legs, and thoraxes with black-brown rinds on the abdomen.
Colorado Potato Beetles (Leptinotarsa decemlineata) belong to nightshade or Solanaceae family and are endemic to the United States except for Alaska, California, Hawaii, and Nevada. They barely reach an inch and have black vertical stripes with hard yellow-orange outer wings.
What Do Potato Bugs Eat?
Jerusalem crickets and Colorado potato beetles are named as potato bugs due to their eating habits. The diet of Jerusalem cricket includes other insects, roots of vegetable crops and of course their favorite potato tubers in the potato field.
On the other hand, Colorado potato beetles don’t just harm potato crops but other vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants from the Nightshade family. Female potato beetles lay eggs underneath the foliage, and the larvae survive by eating the leaves.
Also Read: What Earthworms Love to Eat
How to Get Rid of Potato Bugs?
Jerusalem crickets can ruin the crop if they come in large numbers. They can be prevented by the use of chemical insecticides, trapping, baiting, disposal, and physical removal of the eggs or beetles from the plant. It is a good idea to keep an eye on outdoor objects such as; lumber, woodpiles, and rocks that can become a hiding place for insects.
Colorado potato beetles can be controlled by crop rotation. They can resist many commercial pesticides, but you can use Neem oil. You can rely on the natural enemy of potato bugs, including birds from the shrike family and insects like spiny soldier bug that eats the eggs and larvae of the beetles. Handpicking is also an effective measure in a small garden.
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Are Potato Bugs Poisonous?
Potato bugs are not poisonous. However, these pests have toxin-rich saliva that can damage plants. For humans, without any toxin glands, potato bugs can not be considered harmful. Sometimes though a bite from potato bug (Jerusalem Cricket) can be painful.