Potatoes have long been a major staple crop in the Colorado farming regions, with many families and companies basing their livelihoods off the planting and harvesting of the vegetable. Unfortunately, the Colorado potato beetle is a rampant pest issue for farmers and commercial entities, devastating whole crops and causing potato shortages during some of the worst years. Even more threatening is the fact that the Colorado potato beetle has developed a species-wide resistance to most major pesticides.
To combat this problem, scientists have recently employed a technique known as RNA interference. This is where plants are genetically modified to contain double-strand RNAs that target certain DNA components of the potato beetle. Once the beetle feeds on such altered vegetation, it experiences a 100% mortality rate after five days, while future populations undergo slower growth and development cycles. The procedure is still in the testing phases, but whether you’re a Colorado farmer or perhaps just want to grow potatoes in your home garden, here are steps that can be taken to protect against the Colorado potato beetle.
Protection Against the Colorado Potato Beetle
1. Manual Removal
The orange and black-striped beetle is often quite visible within a garden setting, and adults can be easily detected and removed by hand if necessary. Daily and weekly inspection of plants can ascertain whether the Colorado potato beetle is present and you can then remove them from leaves and stalks in order to keep them from devouring crops and laying further egg deposits.
2. Pesticide Rotation
Colorado potato beetles are notorious for quickly developing resistance (if not outright immunity) to common pesticides. If you use a main pesticide for your garden or crops, be sure to rotate through multiple variations and types in order to increase your chances of their being effective against this particular pest. Relying on a single pesticide just means it will lose potency over time.
Colorado potato beetles mainly feast on the leafy portions of potato plants. However, potato plants are highly sturdy and can withstand up to 30% defoliation without affecting crop harvesting. By reducing the available foliage, you limit the beetle’s potential food source and can hamper future population growth. Contact EcoShield today to discover more pest control techniques that go beyond pesticides.