Colorado Potato Beetle – Identification and Control

Colorado Potato Beetle - Identify and Control
Colorado Potato Beetle – Identify and Control


  • Colorado potato beetle adults are black and orange striped, oval-shaped.
  • They are about 3/8 inch (10 mm) long.
  • They have a dark brown head with irregular black spots.
  • Colorado potato beetles have a hard shell covering their wings.
  • The larvae are reddish hump-backed grubs with black heads and a row of black spots on both sides.
  • Eggs are oval and yellow-orange. They can be found on the underside of the host plant leaves.


Overwintering Colorado potato beetle emerges from the ground in early spring and begins to mate. Females lay eggs on the underside of the host plant (most likely potatoes) leaves. A single female can lay up to 500 eggs in her lifetime. These eggs hatch in 4 to 9 days and larvae begin to feed. The insect goes through multiple stages before turning into an adult beetle. These are:

Stage 1 – Eggs
Stage 2 – Instar I
Stage 3 – Instar II
Stage 4 – Instar III
Stage 5 – Instar IV
Stage 6 – Pupa
Stage 7 – Adult

Colorado Potato Beetle Lifecycle
Colorado Potato Beetle Lifecycle

The complete cycle can take from 5 to 8 weeks. There can be up to 2 generations per year. At the end of the growing season, the beetle larvae that remain will move underground and pupate throughout the winter. [1]

Damage They Cause

Larvae and adults feed on leaves skeletonizing the host plant very rapidly. This defoliation can cause a considerable reduction in yield or even death of the plant.

Plants They Attack

Colorado beetles are most destructive to plants from the nightshade family. Potatoes are their favorite plant, but these pests also attack plants such as tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants.

Live Biological Control

Introduce predator insects to your garden, such as:

  • Attract Assassin Bugs
  • Damsel Bugs
  • Ground Beetles
  • Lacewings
  • Praying Mantis
  • Parasitic Wasps
  • Praying Mantis
  • Spiders
  • Tachinid Flies

Organic Control

To control the Colorado potato beetles, you can use:

  • Neem Oil
  • Citrus Oil
  • Botanical Oil
  • Spinosad
  • Pyrethrin

Preventive actions

  • Inspect plants before bringing them into your yard or garden.
  • Remove these garden pests and throw them into the bucket with soapy water.
  • Knock Colorado potato beetles off and crush them.
  • Plant varieties that are resistant to the Colorado potato beetles.
  • Cover your crops with floating row cover.
  • Rotate your crop. As these beetles are poor fliers, rotation of crops will starve them.
  • Trap these insects by planting trap crops.

More About Colorado Potato Beetle

This insect became a pest after people brought potato plants into the Rocky Mountains, the native habitat for these beetles. The beetles used to eat weeds but took a liking to potatoes and became a serious pest in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Asia, and even some parts of Africa.

The Colorado potato beetle or Colorado beetle or ten-lined potato beetle or ten-striped spearman, or potato bug, is a very adaptable pest. They have already become resistant to many pesticides. So, it is critical to incorporate non-chemical actions into your routine.

The Colorado potato beetle has a twin called the false potato beetle, which is a minor garden pest. The difference between the two bugs is in a slight variation of colors. The main differences are in the picture below. [2]

The Difference Between Colorado Potato Beetle and False Potato Beetle
The Difference Between Colorado Potato Beetle and False Potato Beetle

Check out our other Garden Pests Guides. Read and learn more about how to identify and control garden pests.

Check out our Beneficial Insects Guides. Read and learn about their benefit and how to attract them.

Also, check out our Gardening Guides to learn easy step-by-step tutorials on how to grow plants.

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