Does this insect not have any natural enemies besides humans? The decision was made that this year the potatoes on the farm would be grown totally organically. In years past I've always used a little conventional insecticide on the potatoes just so I would have some. This year I'm experimenting.
Have you ever seen organic potatoes in the store? I mean think about it....ever? I haven't. These potatoes were fertilized with organic manure and hundreds of bugs hand picked and squashed. I'm able to squash a potato bug larvae with my bare fingers now.....I think that means something in the gardening community. Well, maybe not an official title, but my nanny used to squash bugs with her fingers and I thought it was gross. It's really not....it's just handy sometimes.
In one of the patches I walked through yesterday there were literally HUNDREDS of potato bugs on the plants. I knocked them off with the magic bug smacking wand (sprayer nozzle) into the pathway, sprayed them with rotenone/pyrethrum, them stomped them. I realized that in my fit I was killing them twice. Okay, stop panicking--the potatoes in the rear bluff garden are doing okay--if I keep diligently spraying them.
I think the price of organic potatoes should be based on the price of gold. There's probably just as much work goes into producing a bushel of potatoes in spite of this evil beetle as there is to mine more than an ounce of gold.
Tomorrow the potatoes are getting sprayed with neem oil then dusted with diatomaceous earth. We'll see how the beetles like that congloberation.
So far, this has been a pretty buggy year. At least it isn't raining every day like it did last year!