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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Colorado potato beetle

item Weber, Donald

Submitted to: Encyclopedia of Entomology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/25/2008
Publication Date: 10/9/2008
Publication URL:
Citation: Weber, D.C. 2008. Colorado potato beetle. Encyclopedia of Entomology. 2:324-328.

Interpretive Summary: This review article describes the biology, damage, resistance to pesticides, management alternatives, as well as recent research discoveries on Colorado potato beetle (CPB), the most important pest of potatoes in most of the northern hemisphere. Scientists and students of entomology need to be familiar with the range of management alternatives for CPB, so that true integration of these tactics into an integrated and sustainable pest management strategy is possible. This is particularly true as the geographic spread of CPB continues, and organic and other alternative practices are implemented for potatoes, eggplant, and tomato, in the existing range.

Technical Abstract: Colorado potato beetle (CPB) shifted to the potato crop from native solanaceous weeds in the American West in 1859, and has been a serious pest ever since. CPB is a highly fecund leaf-feeder on potato and eggplant, and often tomatoes, with one to several generations per year. It is the most important insect pest of potato over most of its geographical range, about 8 million km² in North America and a like but expanding area in Eurasia. Potentially severe yield loss depends on timing, variety, and other crop stresses. CPB is the best example of an agricultural pest showing resistance to multiple insecticide classes, most recently neonicotinoids. This has prompted development of additional novel chemical controls as well as alternatives. Understanding and averting this resistance requires not only knowledge of genetic and biochemical mechanisms, but also ecological and behavioral insights, especially into the movement of beetles in the field, associated with selection and gene flow. Promising alternatives or complements to chemical controls include native and introduced biological controls, crop rotation, trap crops, and use of newly-discovered plant kairomones and a male-produced aggregation pheromone. Two natural enemies native to North America are occasionally abundant but population ecology is essentially unknown. Lebia grandis is a carabid predator of CPB eggs and larvae as an adult, and a pupal parasitoid of CPB in its larval stage. Two species of Myiopharus (Diptera: Tachinidae) larviposit into larval or adult CPB, and overwinter as an early-instar larva inside the adult. Habitat modification such as use of cover crops and mulches has the potential to suppress the pest. Above all, integration of multiple effective tactics will be essential for a sustainable approach to CPB management.

Last Modified: 06/21/2017
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