Somehow it slipped my memory to write last week’s blog post. I’m not sure how I could forget the memorable experience several of our working CSA members had last Saturday. What was it? You might ask. Well it all started in the way back of the farm, among the beautiful green bushy plants growing from the ground. Around 9 AM we strolled down the shaded treeline to our destination, our possibly favorite crop on the farm……..POTATOES!!!
I bet any of you who have been out to the farm and worked in the potatoes now know what it was we were doing.
Look closely. Can you see them on the stems and leaves? What are they? Colorado Potato Beetles! Theri says the farm gets them every year and each season we spend some quality time eliminating these ruthless pests.
Luckily on this particular Saturday the damage was marginal. We only had a handful of plants that looked like the one above. In our remaining time, me and my crew managed to comb through 4 – 1oo hundred foot rows looking for the beetle in all of its stages.
The beetle starts off as a cluster of bright yellowish-orange eggs underneath the leaf of the potato plant and occasionally any neighboring weeds. Then they hatch and turn a dark pinkish color with black heads. As they grow they become more plump and lighten in color. Anyone who is on Colorado Potato Beetle eradication duty will attest to the similar color stains they leave on your fingers (from smashing!). Eventually they mature into full-grown adults like the picture below.
The second of the two beetles is lingering in the shadows behind the illuminated female. From my experience there are always two adults together when you find them because the role of an adult Colorado Potato Beetle is: 1) lay copious amounts of eggs (usually 2-4 clusters per plant) and 2) stay busy reproducing to be able to lay more eggs.
After collecting over a cup of beetles, in all different stages, we took them back to a hard surface in front of the barn and I allowed our members to partake in a dance party of sorts, squashing them all! The first photo in the post is of John and Steve inflicting the pain. I told them that in the future, whenever they enter the potato field, the beetles will know that they are the reckoners and are to be feared. Let’s hope it wards off those pesky buggers for at least a few more weeks! All in all I think it was an enjoyable experience for them.