Potato Bugs – On Tomato

Q: I am finding these beetles on my tomato plants in Polk County. The leave behind an orange residue when handled. They appear to be eating the leaf edges. What are they?

A: You have Colorado potato beetles, also known as “potato bugs” when I was a kid. The adults don’t fly very well and the fat pink larvae are not very mobile, so picking potato bugs off our Irish potatoes was a childhood chore for me. The beetles can damage small tomato plants but they rarely hurt established plants. Unless you have an acre of tomatoes, I recommend you just pick them off the plants early in the morning and drop them in a jar of soapy water like I did several decades ago.

Colorado Beetle Control Strategies

Colorado potato beetle

Colorado potato beetle

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