Anyone who grows potatoes loves them, so why not celebrate them? National Potato Day falls every year on August 19th; that’s right, there’s a day devoted to our tuberous friends. Some of us like ‘em mashed, others prefer roasted, but we all want them to be pest-free in the garden. So be on the lookout for some of these common critters that love potato crops.
The Pest Bible
Before we get started, if you don’t have it already, I recommend the book, The Vegetable Garden Pest Handbook: Identify and Solve Common Pest Problems on Edible Plants by Susan Mulvihill. No gardener should be without this resource; beyond potato problems, you’ll learn about every pest in the universe, the food crops they go after, and how to handle them.
Growing potatoes is super rewarding because the yields are usually very high and are always delicious! They do well in the ground or in buckets, and there are so many varieties out there to please every palette.
But if you don’t regularly observe them in the garden, you risk losing them to pests or diseases.
If you see skeletonized leaf damage
You might have a beet armyworm problem
If you see chewed flowers or leaves
You might have a blister beetle problem
If you see wilting plants and irregular holes in the leaves and flowers
You might have a cucumber beetle problem
If you see irregular holes in the leaves
You might have an earwig problem
If you see tiny holes in the leaves and stems, stunted growth, or scars on the tubers
You might have a flea beetle problem
If you see white blotches on the leaves, wilting leaves or plants, or brown foliage
You might have a Harlequin bug problem
If you see yellowed leaves or stunted, deformed growth
You might have a leafhopper problem
If you see squiggly lines, blotchy areas, or clear patches on leaves
You might have a leafminer problem
If you see discoloration of stems, leaves, and flowers or distorted plant growth
You might have a Lygus bug problem
If you see yellow or stunted leaves, honeydew, or a cloud of small flies when you shake the plant
You might have a whitefly problem
Again, do yourself a favor and check out Susan Mulvihill’s book to find out how to naturally control the above pests and diagnose more common garden problems.