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Colorado potato beetles are one of the most destructive pests to hit vegetable gardens. They prefer potato plants, but they'll readily attack potato relatives, including tomatoes, eggplants and peppers. Prolific egg-layers, Colorado potato beetles can produce hundreds of offspring in multiple generations each season. Larvae hatch, feed and breed as summer progresses. Adult and larval stages damage plants, spelling disaster for infested gardens.

Identification: Adult Colorado potato beetles are oval-shaped pests that typically grow up to 1/2 inch long. The body segment behind their heads is yellow-orange with black spots. Ten narrow black stripes run down their yellow wing covers. Adult females lay clusters of waxy, yellow-orange eggs on the undersides of leaves. Pea-sized, hump-backed larvae range in color from brick- to salmon-red, with two rows of black spots along each side. Larvae grow larger and more destructive as they age.

Signs/Damage: Colorado potato beetle larvae and adults are voracious eaters that defoliate plants and stunt vegetable growth. Larvae often strike new foliage tips first. Whole leaves and whole plants come next. These pests feed heavily, skeletonizing leaves until just the veins remain. Potatoes and other crops can't form their tubers or fruit, and plants may die completely.

Control: Without intervention, Colorado potato beetles overwinter and increase annually, emerging from soil each spring to feed and breed. GardenTech® brand offers several options to kill Colorado potato beetles by contact and keep protecting for up to three months*. These products treat potatoes, tomatoes and peppers right up to one day before harvest:

  • Sevin® Insect Killer Ready to Use simplifies targeted spot treatments of pests and plants. The adjustable nozzle lets you controls the width of the stream, so you can spray wide or narrow. Start early in the season, before beetles multiply.
  • Sevin® Insect Killer Ready to Spray attaches to a garden hose, making quick, easy work of treating larger areas of affected plants. The product measures and mixes as you spray. Cover all plant surfaces, upper and lower, thoroughly.
  • Sevin® Insect Killer Concentrate provides an easy, economical way to provide extensive coverage of at-risk garden areas. Use with a pump-style sprayer, and cover all plant surfaces thoroughly. Give extra attention to outer garden rows, where Colorado potato beetles may strike first.

Tip: To reduce overwintering beetles, remove and destroy all plant debris at season's end. Till your garden during fall or winter to expose Colorado potato beetles to killing cold.

Always read product labels and follow the instructions carefully.

*These products provide up to 3 month control on all listed insects except ticks.

GardenTech is a registered trademark of Gulfstream Home and Garden, Inc.

Sevin is a registered trademark of Tessenderlo Kerley, Inc.

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