Help! Potato Bugs! An Organic Way? - VeggieBoards

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#1 Old 06-19-2005, 05:25 PM
 
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Has anyone had trouble with bugs destroying the leaves and blooms of potato plants? Simply spraying them off the plants or removing them with fingers doesn't work.

Please help. We don't want to use poisonous pesticides. Is there an organic way, or eco-friendly pesticide, to get rid of these bugs?

slops, gloops, and gruels.
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#2 Old 06-19-2005, 06:01 PM
 
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From www.organicgardenpests.com





Plant natural beetle repellents nearby: flax, horseradish, garlic, eggplant, snap beans, nightshade.



Handpick the beetles and crush the eggs.



Dust the tops of potato leaves with wheat bran. The beetles will eat it and bloat up until they die.



Ladybugs and toads eat beetles.



Spray with basil water.



Spray foliage thoroughly with lead or calcium arsenate, or cryolite, whenever beetles or larvae are present. Either arsenical may be combined with Bordeaux mixture for the control of blight, but cryolite may be used only with a fixed copper free from lime.
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#3 Old 06-19-2005, 06:46 PM
 
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I remember my Grandmother telling me stories of having to pick potato bugs to rid the crops.
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#4 Old 06-20-2005, 05:44 AM
 
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You can get preparations of Bacilis thuringensis (not spelled right probably), a bacteria that kills bugs. It doesn't hurt other animals or people.



Quote:
Spray foliage thoroughly with lead or calcium arsenate, or cryolite, whenever beetles or larvae are present.



Why would you want to put lead and arsenic on something you're going to eat? Very very toxic.
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#5 Old 06-20-2005, 05:54 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Ludi View Post

Why would you want to put lead and arsenic on something you're going to eat? Very very toxic.

because it's all natural, of course.
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#6 Old 06-21-2005, 07:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Ludi View Post

You can get preparations of Bacilis thuringensis (not spelled right probably), a bacteria that kills bugs. It doesn't hurt other animals or people.



It also doesn't hurt potato bugs. It only hurts caterrpillar and moth type insects. Potato bugs are beetles.



Also, personally I've tried it on the moths that eat collards, I think they were European cabbage worms, if I recall correctly. It did not work very well at all. Nor did it work on corn earworms. I applied it according to directions, so I don't know what I did wrong. But I must know how to apply insecticides according to directions, because Diazinon (no longer sold) worked wonders on European cabbage worms.



Lead arsenate indeed. Lead, and arsenic -- in one compound. Doesn't exactly sound like a "non-toxic" organic method. Of course, if the arsenic comes from "natural" sources -- it is probably considered cool for "organic gardening." I think perhaps you are beginning to see my problem with "organic gardening" -- it is stupid. Sodium aluminum flouride (cryolyte) doesn't exactly sound non-toxic either.



Peace asked about an "eco-friendly" insecticide, not about toxicity. In that case, nicotine might work. It kills all kinds insects. It breaks down fairly rapidly. The only problem is, of course, it is more toxic if you get a little on your skin, than most of the industrially-produced "chemical" fertilizers that organic gardeners don't like to use. If you don't wait a long enough time, you will be eating nicotine when you eat your vegetables. Tho I don't know if it will be absorbed by potato plants and carried to the potatoes, or not. But just handling the nicotine sprayed leaves, esp if they are damp, can make you sick. I would just go with a modern commercial insecticide that lists potatoe beetles as a something you may use it for. Bug-B-Gone concentrate maybe. Esfenvalerate. I think is probably a synthetic pyrethroid. I'll check it out. Chemically similar to natural pyretherins, which are pretty non-toxic to humans, but it takes longer to break down. I did note that it doesn't list potato beetles as one of the insects it is approved for. That means it is illegal to use it for potato beetles -- it doesn't mean that it won't work.



http://www.ortho.com/index.cfm/event...2e511e5f5fed7a
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#7 Old 06-21-2005, 07:41 AM
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Esfenvalerate



Note that
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Esfenvalerate has replaced the naturally occurring compound fenvalerate (to which it is almost identical) for use in the U.S....The only differences in the two products are the relative proportions of the four separate constituents (isomers). Esfenvalerate has become the preferred compound because it requires lower applications rates than fenvalerate, is less chronically toxic, [emphasis soilman's] and is a more powerful insecticide. [emphasis soilman's] The compound contains a much higher percentage of the one insecticidally active isomer (84% for esfenvalerate and 22% for fenvalerate).



So my opinion is: natural smatural. The advantage of natural is you can grow it yourself, you don't need a large factory, and so you can survive independent from the military-industrial system. But in this case, esfenvalerate is probably better as an insecticide, than its naturally-produced relative. Less toxic to people, more toxic to insects!



And yes, I've used it myself, and it works well. Not as well as diazinon, but well enough, and it's less toxic to the environment than diazinon. It breaks down in the environment similar to natural pyrethrin, just takes a bit longer.



Diazinon just murders everything by the way. It is eerie the way it kills insects.



Note that esfenvalerate is fairly safe for birds, but nasty for fish. So if you are worried about ecology, you don't want to use it where it gets into your soil, and then your soil runs off into waterways.



It is very toxic to bees, but it tends to repel them, they don't eat it, so there doesn't seem to be a major problem in this area -- unless of course you are depending on bees to pollinate your vine crop (melons, squash, whatever). In that case, do not use esfenvalerate just before the plants will bloom, and during the time they are blooming.



I find it interesting that bees know it is toxic, and avoid it when it is highly concentrated, but eat food containing it when it is present in low concentrations. I wonder if other insects act this way also -- in contrast to the way they act with Diazinon -- what i've seen with diazinon is plants coated with dead insects. With esfenvalerate, what i've seen is reduction in insect infestation.
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#8 Old 06-21-2005, 06:10 PM
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The wheat bran works very well.
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#9 Old 06-23-2005, 06:29 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soilman View Post

It also doesn't hurt potato bugs. It only hurts caterrpillar and moth type insects. Potato bugs are beetles.



La di da.



"A relatively new group of insecticides is made from naturally-occurring bacteria that cause certain kinds of insects to become sick and die. One type of bacteria called B.t. or Bacillus thuringiensis, varieties san diego and tenebrionis, has been developed for control of Colorado potato beetle larvae. The bacteria must be eaten by larvae. These products are slower acting than conventional insecticides; larvae may not die until 4 to 5 days after treatment, although they are too sick to feed during that time. B.t. must be applied as a spray when eggs are just starting to hatch. B.t. is more effective at warmer than at cooler temperatures because insects feed faster as temperature increases. An advantage of the B.t. products is that they are not toxic to natural enemies of the potato beetle."



http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/2000/2204.html



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#10 Old 06-23-2005, 07:39 AM
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OK Ludi, so I didn't know that a new variety of B. T. had been developed, that kills potato beetle larvae.



Note this disclaimer, however "it must be applied as a spray when eggs are just starting to hatch." That means you have to go thru your crop with a microscope, or a strong magnifying glass, and check leaves for eggs, and make sure you spray whenever you see eggs -- it will be too late if you wait until you see actual beetles. So you have to know where they lay their eggs. Is it on the top of leaves, the underside of leaves -- what? Or do you just spray, and spray, and spray again -- whether you see eggs or not?



Again, my personal experience with B.T., the time I tried it, according to directions on the package, was that it didn't work on cabbage worms -- which it is supposed to be very effective on.
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#11 Old 06-23-2005, 07:48 AM
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"Successful use of these Bt formulations requires application to the correct target species at a susceptible stage of development, in the right concentration, at the correct temperature (warm enough for the insects to be actively feeding), and before the insect pests bore into the crop plant or fruit where they are protected. Young larvae are usually most susceptible. Caterpillar growth may be retarded even if less than a lethal dose is eaten. Determining when most of the pest population is at a susceptible stage is key to optimizing the use of this microbial insecticide."



http://www.nysaes.cornell.edu/ent/bi.../bacteria.html



Jeez, the bottle I bought didn't say anything about temperature.



I just think this stuff must be really difficult to use correctly and effectively -- if it didn't work for me -- because I am very good at reading labels and following instructions -- and it didn't work for me. Maybe you need lots of knowledge, requiring training in using it. Chemical insectides -- I've never had a problem getting them to work -- though I've been disappointed with how well they worked, unlike B.t., at least my failures showed some reduction in insect population. The B.T. -- it seemed to have no effect whatsoever. There was nowhere to start in regard to determining how can I improve the effects, next time.



From the same web page "Bt formulations for use against Colorado potato beetle may vary in effectiveness." Jeez-us. What do I do, just go from store to store and buy several bottles, and spray all of them at once -- just in case one bottle isn't effective? You can't try one bottle, then try another later -- if you don't spray at just the right time, it is too late to spray again.



Let me ask you this Ludi, are you speaking from experience, like I am, or are you simply relaying what you have read? Have you actually used B.T. and gotten good results from it?
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#12 Old 06-23-2005, 07:57 AM
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Is B.T really eco-friendly? Read this: http://www.eap.mcgill.ca/MagRack/JPR/JPR_22.htm



"As hazards of conventional, broad acting pesticides are documented, researchers look for pesticides that are toxic only to the target pest, have less impact on other species, and have fewer environmental hazards. Bacillus thuringiensis (B.t.) insecticides result from this research. However, there is evidence suggesting that B.t. is not as benign as the manufacturers would like us to believe, and that care is warranted in its use."



and



"Viable B.t. spores are known to exist for up to one year following application. Insect resistance to B.t. has been well documented. Genetic engineering may greatly expand use of B.t., speeding up the development of more resistance.



Large-scale applications of B.t. can have far reaching ecological impacts. B.t. can reduce dramatically the number and variety of moth and butterfly species, which in turn impacts birds and mammals that feed on caterpillars. In addition, a number of beneficial insects are adversely impacted by B.t.



B.t. is less toxic to mammals and shows fewer environmental effects than many synthetic insecticides. However, this is no reason to use it indiscriminately. Its environmental and health effects as well as those of all other alternatives must be thoroughly considered before use. B.t. should be used only when necessary, and in the smallest quantities possible."



This, to me, means just spraying it a lot, using the shotgun approach, hoping you'll be impacting larvae at the right time, and temperature, in order for the B.T to be effective -- is not a good idea at all.
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#13 Old 06-23-2005, 08:02 AM
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"The short half-life of Bt, due to ultraviolet inactivation when topically applied, has stimulated considerable research into alternative delivery strategies." http://res2.agr.ca/stjean/publicatio...iensis_3_e.htm



Note also that a method developed to make bt last longer is to actually splice it into a plant gene! " By far the most controversial strategy is the use of insect-resistant transgenic crops expressing Bt -endotoxin genes." Hey, that way Bt is probably rather effective. Otherwise, getting it to work seems to be awfully difficult, and dependent on luck -- will the temperature drop; will the particular substrain I have work on the particular sub-strain of insect infestation I have? These all make chemical pesticides a lot easier to use than Bt.
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#14 Old 06-23-2005, 08:07 AM
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"Addison (1993) indicated some soil invertebrates (nematodes, ground beetles) might also be at risk. All tested strains of Bt were toxic to eggs of the nematode, Trichostrongylus colubriformis. However, populations of other nematode species were increased following the field application of Bt. Bt applications were found to reduce populations of a species of predatory mite that is closely related to soil-dwelling species (Addison, 1993)."



http://res2.agr.ca/stjean/publicatio...nsis_4_e.htm#2



beneficial kinds of soil nematodes are absolutely essential to maintaining good soil. Good garden soil is typically about 40% nematodes! They are just as important as earthworms. Fortunately B.t has not been shown to hurt earthworms. But it clearly is not so eco-friendly, nor even garden-friendly, if it affects the balance of nematode species.
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#15 Old 06-23-2005, 12:18 PM
 
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I've never used Bt and won't use it as I don't believe in using insecticides of any kind.
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#16 Old 06-23-2005, 01:26 PM
 
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Which kind of potato bug are we talking about?

Woodlice? http://www.kendall-bioresearch.co.uk/wlice.htm

Jerusalem crickets? http://www.happydranch.com/potatobug.html

Or potato beetle? http://www.oznet.ksu.edu/dp_hfrr/ext...s/colpotat.htm



When I say potato bug I mean woodlice.
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#17 Old 06-23-2005, 01:59 PM
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I was talking about the potato beetle.
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#18 Old 06-23-2005, 07:46 PM
 
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Yes, the striped beetle in the photo is the problem insect. Thank you all for your information. This is the first year we've had a garden and we are still learning. Hopefully we'll be able to use the information for potato bugs for many seasons to come.

slops, gloops, and gruels.
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#19 Old 12-26-2015, 09:53 AM
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Question Potataoe bugs

Quote:
Originally Posted by peace View Post
Has anyone had trouble with bugs destroying the leaves and blooms of potato plants? Simply spraying them off the plants or removing them with fingers doesn't work.<br><br>
Please help. We don't want to use poisonous pesticides. Is there an organic way, or eco-friendly pesticide, to get rid of these bugs?
did you find a solution?
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#20 Old 01-15-2016, 02:03 PM
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I've heard that mixing a little bit of dish soap with some water and spraying the bugs with that can take care of the problem. I've never tried this though, and I am not sure if it would be a good idea, depending on how toxic the dish soap is. I am sure you can find organic dish soap somewhere though.
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#21 Old 02-13-2016, 04:09 AM
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When I have potato bugs I take out a bucket of water with dish soap, knock them into it and then search each plant for eggs under the leaves and squish them with my thumb. Problem solved. Labor intensive sure as it is a once or twice a week project but you get to know your plants very well and it is quite meditative.

Don't want to touch them? Wear a glove. Put earbuds in if you don't want to think about it. It is the easiest, cheapest and best for the plants and earth way to deal with them
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#22 Old 05-16-2016, 12:00 AM
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Peace asked about an "eco-friendly" insecticide, not about toxicity. In that case, nicotine might work. It kills all kinds insects.
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#23 Old 05-25-2016, 07:55 AM
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Chickens? Maybe get several chickens and let them go in your garden in the morning or evening?
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#24 Old 05-25-2016, 09:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gaby Lu View Post
Peace asked about an "eco-friendly" insecticide, not about toxicity. In that case, nicotine might work. It kills all kinds insects.
Peace said no poisonous things, and nicotine is very poisonous.
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#25 Old 07-10-2017, 06:21 AM
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chickens?

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Chickens? Maybe get several chickens and let them go in your garden in the morning or evening?
Would releasing chickens in the garden work? I have several but not in the garden, do you think they would destroy any of the other plants?
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