Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Colorado Potato Beetle

Sadly we have lost all our potato plants this year because of the Colorado Potato beetle. My mom and I did some research today and I wanted to share some of our findings in case they might be of help especially when planning for next years garden.

From Wikepedia:
The Colorado potato beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata, also known as the Colorado beetle, ten-striped spearman, the ten-lined potato beetle) is an important pest of potato crops. It is approximately 10 mm (0.4 inches) long, with a bright yellow/orange body and 5 bold brown stripes along the length of each of its elytra, and it can easily be confused with its close cousin and look-alike, the false potato beetle.
CPB females are very prolific; they can lay as many as 800 eggs. The eggs are yellow to orange, and are about 1.5 mm long. They are usually deposited in batches of about 30 on the underside of host leaves. Development of all life stages depends on temperature. After 4-15 days, the eggs hatch into reddish-brown larvae with humped backs and two rows of dark brown spots on either side. They feed on the leaves. Larvae progress through four distinct growth stages (instars). First instars are about 1.5 mm long; the fourth is about 8 mm long. The larvae in the accompanying picture are third instars. The first through third instars each last about 2-3 days; the fourth, 4-7 days. Upon reaching full size, each fourth instar spends an additional several days as a non-feeding prepupa, which can be recognized by its inactivity and lighter coloration. The prepupae drop to the soil and burrow to a depth of several inches, then pupate. Depending on temperature, light-regime and host quality, the adults may emerge in a few weeks to continue the life cycle, or enter diapause and delay emergence until spring. They then return to their host plant to mate and feed. In some locations, 3 or more generations may occur each growing season.
*Picture to the right is the larvae in their third instars

The Colorado beetle has developed resistance to all major insecticide classes.
All about the Colorado Potato Beetle from Wikipedia
a more detailed article

A Natural Solution! - Flax is a Repellent Plant that May Protect Potatos from Colorado Potato Beetle Infestations
From: Home Remedies, Holistic Approach, Repellent Plants
See How to grow flax

Next year we will for sure be growing flax next to our potatoes but for this year we are resorting to picking the beetles the old fashioned way - by hand. Any other ideas would be appreciated. We have tried diatomaceous earth but we have not found an efficient way of applying it.

Sunday, May 6, 2007


Common mullein is a hairy beinnial plant that can grow up to 2 meters. Its small, yellow flowers are densely grouped on the stem, which bolts from a large rosette of leaves.

I see mullein growing everywhere around here and I often point it out to others. When they ask what it is used for I begin to stumble around trying to remember. Well no longer. Here is everything you need to know about mullein and it's many uses. One of the first things to know when beginning to use herbs found in the wild is to identify them (it can be a BIG mistake if you mess up). Pictured below and to the right is 'The Roadside Flowers of Oklahoma' which is a book we finally bought (it is no longer in print) to help us in identifying the plants in our area. We can then look up in our remedy books how to use it ... or use the internet!

From Herbal Remedies
Mullein Verbascum densiflorum (Spinach Family)

Mullein is an old-time remedy for bronchitis and dry, unproductive coughs.
The leaves and flowers are used to reduce mucous and expel phlegm. Mullein is valued for its ability to loosen mucus and move it out of the body making it a valuable ally for
lung problems.
Mullein has also been used to treat lymphatic congestion and as an anti-spasmodic and astringent herb.
A popular remedy for treating respiratory ailments such as
asthma, coughs and bronchitis.
This herb is also used to clear
congestion, soothe sore throats, and control diarrhea.
It can be used topically to soothe
hemorrhoids and treat cuts & scrapes.
The infused
oil is used to treat earaches. The oil is warmed and placed in the ear on a peice of cotton.
Leaves are used medicinally in oils, teas and compresses.
CAUTIONS: Seeds are toxic and should be avoided.

Other links about Mullein:

Challenge yourself the next time you are out and about to keep an eye out for mullein and see if you can find it! =)