Potato Bug - What is it and how to get rid of it?

You have finally planted that vegetable garden you have always been talking about and are now caring for it waiting for that moment when you can harvest your crop. Then you wake up one morning and find many bugs on the leaves of your potato plants.

First of all, to resolve the problem, you must understand the different insects that could be affect your plants.

Common Bugs in Potatoes

There are actually several insects that love the taste of potato and other vegetable leaves. In contrast some may munch and do next to no damage, others can actually destroy your entire potato crop. So, let’s mention the most common kinds of potato bugs and ways you can get rid of them in a safely and naturally.

- The Colorado Potato Beetle

colorado beetle

This bug has literally eaten its way across the country, one potato plant after another. It is a yellowish bug with brown stripes running the length of its back and it is one of the most destructive bugs to potatoes. These bugs seem to appear overnight and can completely destroy a potato crop in a relatively short time.

To keep your potatoes safe from these beetles, it is wise to take preventative measures before they appear.

Two great natural methods are:

1. Dig a trench around your potato field and line it with plastic.

2. Sprinkle a light dusting of soil in the trench.

For some reason, these beetles can walk on plastic, but when the plastic is dusty with soil, they cannot seem to get across.

- The Blister Beetle


The blister beetle ranges in size from 3/4 of an inch to 1 ½ inches long. These are usually found near rangelands and deserts and will feed on the leaves of your potato plants. While your plant leaves may look a bit raggedy, the blister beetle usually does little or no harm to the potatoes themselves, so they are generally left alone.

- Flea Beetle

flea beetle

These small beetles are called that way because they hop like a flea from plant to plant and don’t just confine their eating to your potato plants. It is actually the larvae that cause the real damage as it burrows under the tuber’s skin leaving it susceptible to bacteria, fungus and rot. Once they infest your garden, they are challenging to get rid of. (reference)

- Jerusalem Cricket

Jerusalem cricket (potato bug)

There is also the Jerusalem cricket known as potato bug, which has been found eating potatoes among other tubers. Their size is normally around 1 to almost 3 inches long.

How to Avoid the Potato Bug Problem

Preventing the infestation of these potato bugs is essential to controlling them.

– One effective way is to plant trap crops, such as giant mustard, a distance from your vegetable plants.

– The yellow marigold flower plants are plants that the bug likes better than the tomatoes and potatoes, so they migrate to what for them is a gourmet meal and feed off those plants, like cabbage and eggplant.

marigold flowers

– You can also grow companion plants in your vegetable garden.

Companion plants are either other vegetables, ornamental plants, or grasses that the bug hates, for example, marigold, coriander and horseradish (at the corners).

Planting these between rows of plants that beetles eat can keep these pests from destroying your entire garden if they do decide to visit.