Colorado beetles feast on new potatoes in Latvia

Take note – story published 2 years and 11 months ago

Due to weather conditions, Colorado beetles are growing more rapidly this year, so potato yields can fall by as much as 80%, Latvian Television reported July 8.

The big potato farms are still hoping that potatoes will grow, but they do say that the scene currently looks like parasite fields forever. Farmers are also quite sour that their favorite insecticides have been listed among the prohibited substances, while a biological peasant has developed a special mechanism for collecting beetles.

Colorado beetles have covered both large and small gardens this year, and it is virtually impossible to collect them by hand. Therefore, a mechanical beetle gatherer was invented on a biological farm in Penkule parish. The idea emerged from a video found on the Internet, but the farmer has built it from items found at home. 

"If you collect well, you can pick up 200 liters of [Colorado beetle] per day this year. The idea came because there are so many beetles that we realized that if we don't do anything, then we won't have potatoes this year. There are so many beetles that they eat everything clean, stems and everything,” said Jānis Hercbergs, representative of the biological ZS “Vizbuļi.”

Farms where plant protection products can be used have better chances. The problem is that normal systemic exposure products have entered the banned list.

However, plant protection experts said that Colorado beetles are no more than usual. The problem is that the cold spring and hot summer packed their development stages in a couple of weeks. “This means that if adults have laid eggs yesterday, small larvae will have hatched today or tomorrow,” Anita Lestlande, head of the National Plant Protection Service (VAAD) Integrated Plant Protection Division, said.

If the fields are reached by heavy rain, the situation could be improved as beetles and larvae would fall to the ground.

Latvians take their spuds very seriously, so the Colorado beetle might just be the most hated parasite, making headlines every time it appears. Our other story provides an insight into the history of cultivation of this staple in Latvia, and we can also offer you some recipe ideas - pancakes, cake, or 18th century dishes - if the beetles haven't got to your spuds first.


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