Potato Tuberworm Phthorimaea operculella (Zeller) (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) (2023)

Harsimran K. Gill, Gurminder Chahil, Gaurav Goyal, Arshdeep K. Gill, and Jennifer L. Gillett-Kaufman 2


The potato tuberworm Phthorimaea operculella (Zeller), also known as potato tuber moth or tobacco splitworm, is an oligophagous pest (an insect feeding on a restricted range of food plants) of crops belonging to the family Solanaceae (mainly potatoes [Solanum tuberosum L.], tomatoes [Solanum lycopersicum L.] and tobacco [Nicotiana tabacum L.]). Phthorimaea operculella has been a minor pest of tobacco for more than 100 years. However, in North Carolina, this pest has emerged as a problem in tobacco plantings over the last five years. This pest has been reported in tropical, subtropical and Mediterranean agro-zones (Westedt et al. 1998, Flanders et al. 1999, Visser 2005, Golizadeh and Esmaeili 2012).

The potato tuber worm affects production, reduces quality of the produce and increases the risk of infection by plant pathogens. The common name potato tuberworm is given to its damaging larval stage. There are two species in different genera with similar names: Tecia solanivora (Povolny) and Symmetrischema tangolias (Gyen). Tecia solanivora (Povolny), the Guatemalan potato moth, is found in Central America and northern South America and attacks potatoes that are still in the field as well as stored potatoes. The Andean or South American potato tuber moth, Symmetrischema tangolias (Gyen), is a pest of stored potatoes in the Andes.

Potato Tuberworm Phthorimaea operculella (Zeller) (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) (1)


Potato tuberworm is a cosmopolitan pest. In the United States, it has been reported in at least 25 states from the Atlantic to the Pacific coast. This pest occurs in most areas where potatoes or other solanaceous plants are grown. It was first recorded in California in 1856 (Alvarez et al. 2005). However, it was not a major concern for growers in the Pacific Northwest until 2002, when severe potato tuberworm damage was documented in a field near Hermiston, Oregon (Rondon et al. 2007). It occurs widely in Africa (Ethiopia, Egypt, Kenya), Asia (Iran, Syria), Europe, the Americas (Latin America, Andes of Peru and Bolivia) and Oceania (Australia and New Zealand) (Saour 2004, Vargas et al. 2004, Davidson et al. 2006, Golizadeh and Esmaeili 2012, Golizadeh and Zalucki 2012, Ahmed et al. 2013, Kroschel et al. 2013). Potato tuberworm has been reported in more than 90 countries (Anonymous 2013).

Host Range

Potato tuberworms are mainly associated with potatoes; however, they have been observed feeding on other plants, such as tomatoes, eggplants (Solanum melongena L.), peppers (Capsicum spp.), tobacco and wild solanaceous plants like Jimson weed or datura (Datura stramonium L.) (Alvarez et al. 2005). In the Pacific Northwest, potato tuberworms have only been reported infesting potatoes (Rondon et al. 2007).

Life History

Eggs, larvae and pupae of potato tuberworm can potentially survive in volunteer potatoes, or in the soil after harvest. Potato tuberworm is known to survive in the soil as pupae. Larval development is interrupted by temperatures below 50°F. Larvae can pupate in the soil, discarded piles of potatoes, dead leaves, on storage walls, or on eyes of stored tubers (Raman 1980). They can also pupate in crevices in walls, floors and crates.

All instars may occur together in overlapping generations. There are two to eight generations per year depending upon climatic conditions. There are usually two generations per year in temperate climates of North America (Alvarez et al. 2005). In the Northern Hemisphere, peak populations of adults occur from May through June in Israel, from June through August in Yemen, and from April to October in the United States. Generation time can vary from two weeks during summer to seven or eight months if the cycle is interrupted by winter. Winter populations can be active in storage facilities where optimum temperature for survival is maintained. Potato tuber moths can move up to 0.15 miles between crops to infest plants or tubers. Long distance movement of potato tuberworms occurs when infested tubers are accidentally transported (Alvarez et al. 2005).


When foliage is not available, potato tuberworm moths can crawl short distances through cracks in loose soil to find a tuber they will use as an oviposition site. In four days, the adult female can deposit 60 to 200 eggs singly or in small clusters directly on host plant parts such as the stem, underside of leaves, or in the eye cracks and indentations on tubers. Eggs are smooth and oval, and they can be pearly white to yellowish (before hatching) in color. The eggs usually hatch after five days.


Larvae are 0.5 to 0.6 inch long and white or yellow with a brown head andprothorax (midsection of the insect body) (Raman 1980, Alvarez et al. 2005). The thorax has small black points and bristles on each segment. The color of larvae changes from white or yellow to pink or green as they mature. The larvae feed on their host plants for up to two weeks before pupation.

Potato Tuberworm Phthorimaea operculella (Zeller) (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) (2)
Potato Tuberworm Phthorimaea operculella (Zeller) (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) (3)


Pupae are white, narrow and 0.5 inch long. Depending upon climatic conditions, pupae take 10 to 30 days to fully develop (Raman 1980, Alvarez et al. 2005). The silken cocoon spun around pupae can become covered with soil and debris.

Potato Tuberworm Phthorimaea operculella (Zeller) (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) (4)


The moths are narrow bodied, silver gray in color, and 0.4 inch long with a wing span of 0.5 inch. Wings are grayish-brown, fringed and elongate with small brown or black markings. Both pairs of wings have fringed edges. At rest, the wings are held close to the body, giving the moth a slender appearance. The forewings are yellowish gray with dark spots (2–3 dots on males and characteristic "X" pattern on females); the hind wings are gray (Raman 1980, Alvarez et al. 2005).

Potato Tuberworm Phthorimaea operculella (Zeller) (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) (5)

The adults are fast fliers and like most other moths require an insect-collecting net for capturing. These moths live for one to two weeks, are crepuscular (active at dawn and dusk), and feed on nectar. Females are slightly larger than males. Mating begins 24 hours after emergence.


Larvae feed on potato leaves, stems, petioles, and, more importantly, potato tubers in the field and in storage. The newly hatched larvae create mines on leaves by feeding on leaf tissue while leaving the upper and lower epidermis of the leaf intact. They prefer feeding on young foliage (Trivedi and Rajagopal 1992). Typical damage results from larvae boring tunnels in tubers. Larvae depositing their excreta make tubers unfit for consumption. Potato tuber eyes become pink due to deposition of silk and excrement by potato tuberworm infestation. Severe infestations result in yield and quality losses during storage where previously infested tubers are stored with healthy potato tubers (Malakar and Tingey 2006, Rondon 2010). This generally destroys the entire crop of stored potatoes.

Potato Tuberworm Phthorimaea operculella (Zeller) (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) (6)

Most economic damage occurs to potato tubers in storage conditions in developing countries and is caused by larval feeding. Presence of even one larva is sufficient to spoil and destroy a tuber. Rapidly moving caterpillars penetrate the tubers, form galleries coated with silken threads and eject frass outside the tuber. On leaves, caterpillars form galleries and then penetrate other plant parts. After two to three weeks, caterpillars leave the plant (caterpillars can move through cracks in soil) and pupate on walls of potato bags lying in potato fields. Fungi, bacteria and mites can develop inside the tunnels made by the larvae, which causes the tubers to rot and emit an unpleasant smell.

Stored crop losses in potatoes ranging from 50% in Yemen and Peru; 86% in Tunisia, Algeria and Turkey; 90% in Kenya; and 100% in India and the Philippines have been reported (Alvarez et al. 2005). In Egypt, potato tuber moth has caused up to 100% losses to potato plants in fields as well as in storage (Ahmed et al. 2013). Potato tuber moth is also a pest of tomatoes where larvae damage the leaves, stems and unripe fruits.

Potato Tuberworm Phthorimaea operculella (Zeller) (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) (7)


Monitoring of potato tuber moth is a critical part of its management. Pheromone traps that attract males have been effective for monitoring potato tuber moth populations. Monitoring is one of the most important components of an integrated pest management (IPM) plan for potato tuber moth. Monitoring gives an indication of insect presence, population and distribution and allows for timing of pesticide applications for its management. Pan-water traps baited with the pheromone can be used for attracting and monitoring adult male populations. These traps are easy to use and clean between readings. Four traps per quadrant of a circle, about 50 ft from the periphery of the circle are suggested for monitoring in field. No economic threshold level (ETL) has been determined for crop damage or yield loss in fields. However, checking traps twice a week is suggested and pesticide application is recommended in case of high population (e.g., 15 to 20 moths/trap/night) (Anonymous 2013).

Potato Tuberworm Phthorimaea operculella (Zeller) (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) (8)


The most common method of control of Phthorimaea operculella is pesticides (Dillard et al. 1993). The development of pesticide resistance, resurgence of pest populations and potential detrimental effects of synthetic pesticides on nontarget organisms has led to the adoption of integrated pest management (IPM) strategies. It is important to know the biology and distribution of a pest for an IPM program to be successful.

Field Management

Cultural Control

Weeds and volunteer plants can act as alternate hosts for potato tuberworms and should be eliminated from fields and surrounding areas. Deep planting and good coverage of potato seeds with soil more than 2 inches during hilling helps protect damage by adults and larvae. Discard infested tuber seeds; only use healthy seed tubers for planting. Vines should not be used for covering tubers as they wilt after some time and larvae and moths can penetrate the cover to reach underlying tubers.

Harvest soon after crop maturity. Moth populations are maintained in plant and tuber debris in the field in the absence of main crop. Therefore, timely field cleanliness is an important preventive measure. Cull piles should be destroyed to reduce overwintering stages of potato tuberworm. Avoid leaving harvested tubers overnight in the field because these potatoes could act as egg-laying sites for potato tuber moth (Raman 1980, Alvarez et al. 2005, Rondon et al. 2007, Anonymous 2013).

Soil Management and Irrigation

Irrigation is the most effective preventative method under dry conditions (Raman 1980). Enough irrigation should be provided to not allow cracks to develop deeper than two inches in the soil. It is recommended that fields should be irrigated after vine desiccation to avoid cracks in the soil and that harvest of tubers occurs as soon as the skin sets (Anonymous 2013).

Resistant Varieties

Host plant resistance enables plants to avoid, tolerate, or recover from pest infestations (Tingey 1986, Panda and Khush 1995). The efficacy of other control methods can be increased using resistant potato cultivars, thus reducing use of insecticides (Arnone et al. 1998, Golizadeh and Esmaeili 2012). Rondon et al. (2013) studied potato lines at Oregon, some of which hold promising results for controlling mines and number of larvae in potato tubers. An earlier study was conducted at Oregon by Rondon et al. (2009), and it was confirmed that tubers of the transgenic clone Spunta G2 were resistant to potato tuberworm damage. The resistance germplasm to potato tuberworm is an important part of an IPM program for potato tuberworm.

Biological Control

Natural enemies of potato tuber moth can be used as a part of an IPM program. The parasitoids Copidosoma koehleri and Bracon gelechiae Ashmead (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) have been used with some success in South America and Australia, respectively (Symington 2003, Alvarez et al. 2005).

Bio Pesticides and Natural Chemicals

Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) formulations have proved effective for potato tuber moth control in various parts of world (Alvarez et al. 2005).

In several South American countries, PhopGV-based biopesticides (Phthorimaea operculella granulovirus (PhopGV), genus: Betabaculovirus of the arthropod-infecting Baculoviridae) are used to control either Phthorimaea operculella or Tecia solanivora (Zeddam et al. 2013).

Chemical Control

Chemical control might be necessary when adults or larvae are present. For chemical recommendations for commercial growers or home gardens, consult your local county Extension service and be sure to follow all local laws regarding pesticide use.

Storage Management

Potato tuberworm is a year-long problem under storage conditions due to continuous breeding of this pest. The length of life cycle of potato tuberworm is highly dependent on temperature. So, storage temperature should always be kept below 52°F. Monitoring in storage situations relies on the use of pheromone traps. Under storage conditions, cultural control options involve elimination of damaged tubers. Screens should be installed at entry points to exclude moths.

Sanitation of storage facility walls, floors and ceiling is very important. Treat facility with an approved pesticide, if this pest was detected the previous year. Use new or thoroughly sanitized potato sacks, crates, or other containers. Bt spray can be used on tubers that are mainly used for human consumption, and pyrethroids on tubers used for seed purpose (Anonymous 2013).

Selected References

Ahmed AAI, Hashemb MY, Mohamedc SM, Shimaa Khalila SH. 2013. Protection of potato crop against Phthorimaea operculella (Zeller) infestation using frass extract of two noctuid insect pests under laboratory and storage simulation conditions. Archives of Phytopathology and Plant Protection. DOI:10.1080/03235408.2013.795356.

Alvarez JM, Dotseth E, Nolte P. 2005. Potato tuberworm a threat for Idaho potatoes. University of Idaho Extension, Idaho Agricultural Experiment Station, Moscow, ID. (31 March 2020)

Anonymous. 2013. Potato tuber moth- Tuberworm. CropWatch: Potato Education Guide, UNL Extension. University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE. (31 March 2020)

Arnone S, Musmeci S, Bacchetta L, Cordischi N, Pucci E, Cristofaro M, Sonnino A. 1998. Research in Solanum spp. of sources of resistance to the potato tuber moth, Phthorimaea operculella (Zeller). Potato Research 41:39–49.

Clough GH, Rondon SI, DeBano SJ, David N, Hamm PB. 2010. Reducing tuber damage by potato tuberworm (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) with cultural practices and insecticides. Journal of Economic Entomology 103:1306–1311.

Davidson MM, Butler RC, Wratten SD, Conner AJ. 2006. Field evaluation of potato plants transgenic for a cry1Ac gene conferring resistance to potato tuber moth, Phthorimaea operculella (Zeller) (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae). Crop Protection 25:216–224.

Dillard HR, Wicks TJ, Philip B. 1993. A grower survey of diseases, invertebrate pests, and pesticide use on potatoes grown in South Australia. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture 33:653–661.

Flanders K, Arnone S, Radcliffe E. 1999. The potato: genetic resources and insect resistance, pp. 207-239. In: Clement SL, Quisenberry SS (eds.), Global plant genetic resource for insect resistant crops. CRC, Boca Raton, FL.

Golizadeh A, Esmaeili N. 2012. Comparative life history and fecundity of Phthorimaea operculella (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) on leaves and tubers of different potato cultivars. Journal of Economic Entomology 105:1809–1815.

Golizadeh A, Zalucki MP. 2012. Estimating temperature-dependent developmental rates of potato tuberworm, Phthorimaea operculella (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae). Insect Science 19:609–620.

Kroschel J, Sporleder M, Tonnang HEZ, Juarez H, Carhuapoma P, Gonzales JC, Simon R. 2013. Predicting climate-change-caused changes in global temperature on potato tuber moth Phthorimaea operculella (Zeller) distribution and abundance using phenology modeling and GIS mapping. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 170:228–241.

Malakar R, Tingey WM. 2006. Aspects of tuber resistance in hybrid potatoes to potato tuberworm. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata 120:131–137.

Medina RF, Rondon SI, Reyna SM, Dickey AM. 2010. Population structure of Phthorimaea operculella (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) in the United States. Environmental Entomology 39:1037–1042.

Panda N, Khush GS. 1995. Host plant resistance to insects. CAB International, Oxon, United Kingdom.

Raman KV. 1980. The potato tuber moth. Technical information bulletin 3. International potato center Lima, Peru. (Revised edition 1980)

Rondon SI, DeBano SJ, Clough GH, Hamm PB, Jensen A, Schreiber A, Alvarez JM, Thornton M, Barbour J, Dogramaci M. 2007. Biology and management of the potato tuberworm in the Pacific Northwest. A Pacific Northwest. Extension publication. Oregon State University, University of Idaho, Washington State University. (31 March 2020)

Rondon SI, Hane DC, Brown CR, Vales MI, Dogramaci M. 2009. Resistance of potato germplasm to the potato tuberworm (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae). Journal of Economic Entomology 102:1649–1653.

Rondon SI. 2010. The potato tuberworm: a literature review of its biology, ecology, and control. American Journal of Potato Research 87:149–166.

Rondon SI, Brown CR, Marchosky R. 2013. Screening for resistance of potato lines to the potato tuberworm, Phthorimaea operculella (Zeller) (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae). American Journal of Potato Research 90:71–82.

Saour G. 2004. Efficacy assessment of some Trichogramma species (Hymenoptera: Trichogrammatidae) in controlling the potato tuber moth Phthorimaea operculella Zell. (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae). Journal of Pest Science 77:229–234.

Sharaby A, Abdel-Rahman H, Moawad S. 2009. Biological effects of some natural and chemical compounds on the potato tuber moth, Phthorimaea operculella Zell. (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae). Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences 16:1–9.

Sisay A, Ibrahim A. 2012. Evaluation of some potential botanicals to control potato tuber moth, (Phthorimaea operculella) under storage condition at Bako, western Ethiopia. eSci Journal of Plant Pathology 01:14–18.

Symington CA. 2003. Lethal and sublethal effects of pesticides on the potato tuber moth, Phthorimaea operculella (Zeller) (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) and its parasitoid Orgilus lepidus Muesebeck (Hymenoptera: Braconidae). Crop Protection 22:513–519.

Tingey WM. 1986. Techniques for evaluating plant resistance to insects, pp. 251–284. In: Miller JR, Miller TA, Berenbaum M (eds.), Insect Plant Interactions. Springer, New York, NY.

Trivedi TP, Rajagopal D. 1992. Distribution, biology, ecology and management of potato tuber moth, Phthorimaea operculella (Zeller) (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae): a review. Tropical Pest Management 38:279–285.

Vargas B, Rubio S, López-Avila A. 2004. Estudios de hábitos y comportamiento de la polilla guatemalteca Tecia solanivora (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) en papa almacenada. Revista Colombiana de Entomología 30:211–217.

Visser D. 2005. Guide to potato pests and their natural enemies in South Africa. Arc- Roodeplaat Vegetable and Ornamental Plant Institute, Pretoria, South Africa.

Westedt AL, Douches DS, Pett W, Grafius EJ. 1998. Evaluation of natural and engineered resistance mechanisms in Solanum tuberosum L. for resistance to Phthorimaea operculella Zeller. Journal of Economic Entomology 91:552–556.

Zeddam J-L, Lèry X, Gómez-Bonilla Y, Espinel- Correal C, Páez D, Rebaudo F, López-Ferber M. 2013. Responses of different geographic populations of two potato tuber moth species to genetic variants of Phthorimaea operculella granulovirus. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata 149:138–147.


What is Phthorimaea Operculella on potato? ›

Phthorimaea operculella is native to South America and can act as both an above- and belowground herbivore on potato plants, and cause extensive damage to tubers during storage [25]. Females lay eggs in leaves and soil around potato plants and on exposed tubers.

What do potato worms turn into? ›

Potato tuberworm adults are small moths that lay tiny oval eggs of white to yellow hue. Once hatched and full grown, the resulting larvae are caterpillars, which vary in color and feed upon leaves and stems. Potato tuberworm damage doesn't end there though.

What is the damage of potato tuber moth? ›

The damage caused by the larvae is that of mines in the leaves and / or weakening of the stem, which can break. The feeding paths of the caterpillars in the tubers can only be detected when the potato is cut open. The galleries in the tubers makes then unsaleable and also facilitate the entry of pathogens.

How do you remove glycoalkaloids from potatoes? ›

Peeling, boiling and frying can reduce the content of glycoalkaloids in food. For example, peeling potatoes can reduce their content by between 25 and 75%, boiling in water between 5 and 65%, and frying in oil between 20 and 90%.

Why do you add an E to potatoes? ›

Potato and tomato belong to a set of nouns that end with the letter -o that form plurals by adding -es. Other plurals formed by adding -es to words ending with -o are echoes, torpedoes and vetoes. Help Us Improve!

Can potato bugs make you sick? ›

Potato bugs are not poisonous. However, these pests have toxin-rich saliva that can damage plants. Potato bugs can not be considered harmful to humans without any toxin glands. Sometimes though, a bite from a potato bug (Jerusalem Cricket) can be painful.

How do I get rid of potato worms? ›

Potatoes make great wireworm traps. Cut a potato in half and run a stick through the middle. Bury the spud about one inch deep so that the stick stands vertically as a handle. Pull the traps out after a day or two and discard wireworms.

Do potato bugs have poison? ›

Let's just get one thing out of the way here: While not poisonous, a bite from a potato bug can certainly rattle you! Potato bugs have strong jaws that can sink into the skin and cause a moderate amount of pain if they bite you. Luckily, it isn't common to get bitten by potato bugs and they don't inject venom.

What kills potato bugs? ›

Monterey Garden Insect Spray (Spinosad) is a highly effective bio-pesticide recommended for use against potato beetles. For best results, apply when young. Safer® BioNeem contains azadirachtin, the key insecticidal ingredient found in neem oil.

How do you get rid of potato bugs naturally? ›

The story goes that potato bugs hate horseradish. One recipe calls for 10 garlic cloves and a few tablespoonfuls of horseradish brewed in two cups hot water. Once cooled, strain off liquid, discard the solid parts and add a few drops of Safer's insecticidal soap.

How do I keep potatoes bug free? ›

Vinegar. The acidity of the vinegar will kill potato bugs and all kinds of bad plant pests. Therefore, combine one cup of vinegar, one teaspoon of liquid soap, and three cups of water in a spray bottle. Shake well and use it to spray your plants to kill nymphs and adults.

Why are potato bugs bad? ›

Potato bugs feed on the leaves and stems of potato plants. In large numbers, they may completely defoliate the plant. Potato plants can usually withstand infestations early in the season. But the damage is severe if it occurs when the potato tubers are actively growing, usually right after blooming.

How long do potato bugs last? ›

Potato Beetle Prevention

Keep an eye on your plants for several weeks, since adults spend the winter in the soil and can colonize host plants for one month and live for a whole year.

What damage do moths cause? ›

Though the pests favor wool, they will consume anything from feathers to silk. They're drawn to food particles and other stains on fabric. Moth damage to clothes can set residents back hundreds of dollars. In addition to leaving holes in garments, clothes moths damage blankets, rugs, and furniture.

Why do I feel sick after eating potatoes? ›

Eating potatoes without removing the alkaloids leads to the development of symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomachache, feeling of weakness, dizziness, and dyspnea about 20 minutes after eating, and food poisoning may develop although it is generally mild.

Can solanine poisoning be treated? ›

There is no cure or known remedy.

How long does it take for solanine to kick in? ›

Symptoms usually occur 8 to 12 hours after ingestion, but may occur as rapidly as 10 minutes after eating high-solanine foods.

Why do you add baking soda to potatoes? ›

The baking soda bath breaks down the potato's pectin and draws the starch to the surface, which promotes browning and the satisfying crispiness that only a perfectly roasted potato can deliver.

Do you shock potatoes? ›

Step # 2: Drop the potatoes in ice water for 5 – 10 seconds. The temperature change will shock the skins loose and make peeling a breeze. It is important to only place the potatoes in the ice water for 5 – 10 seconds.

Why is nitrogen good for potatoes? ›

Proper nitrogen (N) nutrition of potatoes is essential to high yields, optimum crop quality, and maximum profitability. Nitrogen is essential for vegetative growth and protein synthesis. Nitrogen is essential to the photosynthetic factory that converts solar energy to carbohydrates that are stored in the tuber.

Do potato bugs make noise? ›

They are somewhat scary looking and will rise up on their hind legs and jump at whatever disturbs or annoys them. They can also make a sound like sandpaper rubbed together.

Are potato bugs good for anything? ›

Because their food of choice is decaying plant life, potato bugs will burrow into your garden and eat away all the dead roots and any other material left behind from the previous garden. This burrowing aerates the soil and allows for it to be more porous.

Do potato bugs bite dogs? ›

Yes. Unlike other insects that bite without reason, potato bugs bite but only when they are provoked.

How do I get rid of click beetles in my house? ›

Sealing or caulking all cracks and crevices around your foundation and around windows, doors and other entryways will discourage click beetles from entering your home. Turning off exterior lights near doors when not needed can reduce the number of click beetles drawn to lights at night.

Can potato bugs fly? ›

Life Cycle. Adults overwinter four to 12 inch deep in the ground of harvested potato fields and emerge in spring around May. Adults do not migrate but will fly for several miles to find its Solanaceous hosts.

Do potato bugs feel pain? ›

As far as entomologists are concerned, insects do not have pain receptors the way vertebrates do.

What happens if a cricket bites you? ›

Although they can bite, it is rare for a cricket's mouthparts to actually puncture the skin. Crickets do carry a significant number of diseases which, although having the ability to cause painful sores, are not fatal to humans. These numerous diseases can be spread through their bite, physical contact or their feces.

What smells do potato bugs hate? ›

Several pungent plants also have a reputation for repelling a broad range of predatory insects. Garlic, catnip, chives and nasturtiums may provide your vegetables some additional protection against the potato beetle.

What kind of food do potato bugs eat? ›

This insect pest is one of the best known beetles, famous for it's ability to devour vegetables in the nightshade family: potato, tomato, eggplant and peppers. The adult beetles as well as their larvae can strip the plants of leaves and ruin an entire crop, if left to their own devices.

What causes potato bugs in the house? ›

These animals usually remain outside, but may come inside when their habitat become too wet or even too dry. They enter under doors and around ground-level windows. They don't reproduce in houses or basements because it is too dry and there is no food there for them.

How do I keep bugs out of my potato pantry? ›

Jar of museli in kitchen cupboard

At home, transfer grains, cereals, nuts, dried fruit and the like to glass, metal or sturdy plastic containers with airtight lids. They keep insects out much better than cardboard, paper or foil.

Do potato bugs eat tomato plants? ›

Their damage can greatly reduce yield and even kill plants. In addition to potato, Colorado potato beetle can be a serious pest of tomato, eggplant, and pepper.

Do marigolds keep potato bugs away? ›

MARIGOLDS- Repel Mexican bean beetles, aphids, cabbage moths, potato bugs, squash bugs, nematodes (if dug into soil), and maggots. CHIVES - Repels aphids and Japanese beetles.

Are potato bugs bad for soil? ›

Both Potato Beetle adults and their larvae are destructive to plants. One of the most frustrating aspects of dealing with this bug is not just that it can create significant crop damage in a short amount of time, but its the Potato Bugs resistance to many garden insecticides.

What kills potato plants? ›

The common black and yellow-striped "potato bug", a very familiar insect, is the most serious pest of potatoes. Both the adult, or beetle, and the black-spotted, red larva feed on potato leaves. Their damage can greatly reduce yield and even kill plants.

Do potato bugs eat wood? ›

They also don't eat wood, contrary to their family name of “woodlouse.” Usually if you're seeing sow bugs or pill bugs within your home, it means your garden or yard outside is ripe with the perfect food and habitat for these pests and they have just accidentally wandered indoors.

What kills Rolly Pollies? ›

Diatomaceous earth is a safe way to desiccate or dry out pill bugs, therefore killing them. Spread Diatomaceous along the edges of your planting beds where pill bugs like to live.

Do potato bugs play dead? ›

Its really amazing that they are such a devastating pest because they are such wimps. They play dead and throw up on themselves when they're frightened and to top it all off, they're lazy. This is good news for us – or at least those of us that are able to rotate out of potato and other solanaceous crops.

Do pill bugs lay eggs? ›

A pill bug female lays her eggs into a pouch on her underbelly. The pouch is between the first five pairs of her legs, and it can hold hundreds of eggs. The eggs develop in the pouch for two to three months. After the eggs hatch, the roly-poly babies stay in the pouch for three or four days before they crawl out.

Do potato bugs have lungs? ›

They may act like insects, but they are actually more closely related to the lobsters, shrimp, and crabs. Now that we know that pill and sow bugs are crustaceans, it may not be as surprising to learn that these little critters do not have lungs. Instead they breathe through gills.

Can moths hurt you in your sleep? ›

Rest assured, the kinds of moths that flutter around your room at night won't sting, bite, or otherwise hurt you. Still, you should probably try to catch and remove moths in your bedroom.

Can moths damage your eyes? ›

On a more famous perspective, most people think that having a moth's dust in a person's eyes can cause blindness. It may cause irritation, but there are no records or whatsoever that proves that a moth's dust can cause blindness.

Can moths in your house make you sick? ›

Here's the best news: Pantry moths do not produce toxins or carry diseases. They are not known to spread any known disease, parasites, or pathogens.

What does phosphate do for potatoes? ›

Phosphorus is important for early root and shoot development, providing energy for plant processes such as ion uptake and transport.

What are the little balls on potatoes? ›

Those round seed pods are also called potato fruit, potato berries and seed balls. The interior of a seed pod has up to 500 tiny seeds distributed throughout a mass of moist tissue.

What are the barnacles on potatoes? ›

Potato scab is caused by the bacterium Streptomyces scabies.

What is little nubs that are on potatoes? ›

The white bumps are actually called lenticels. Lenticels are special pores in the plant tissue that allow oxygen exchange with the outside world, allowing the potatoes to “breathe.” The large amount of moisture we have been receiving caused the lenticels to swell and therefore become visible.

What fertilizer do potatoes need the most? ›

When planting, an NPK ratio of 15-15-15 is ideal. A month or two after they've been planted, potatoes need lots of nitrogen, so a fertilizer with an NPK of 34-0-0 is the best choice. An NPK of 12-12-17 or 14-7-21 is best for the last couple of months before harvest when the plants require more potassium.

How much fertilizer do potatoes need? ›

For the home gardener or small market farm, it is recommended to use a complete fertilizer like 20-20-20 or 10-10-10 to ensure you get all the required nutrients. Overall, if you had a 1,000 square foot of potatoes in the garden area you would need about 25 pounds of 20-20-20 throughout their lifetime growing span.

What nutrient do potatoes need most? ›

Potato nutrient requirements
  • Nitrogen and Potassium - early growth and dry matter. Phosphate - more tubers, growth and dry matter. ...
  • Phosphate and Magnesium - bigger tubers. Zinc and Manganese – skin finish. ...
  • Nitrogen, Phosphate and Magnesium - maintain tuber growth. Calcium – improves skin finish and reduces disease impact.

Can you eat potato fruit? ›

These potato fruit are not edible. More precisely, they are poisonous. They contain high amounts of solanine that can make the eater very ill. Solanine is also found in potatoes that are dug, left in the sun and the skin turns green.

What does potato fruit taste like? ›

Unripe berries taste a lot like green tomatoes, but have a much stronger bitter aftertaste. As they ripen, they become bittersweet, and, when fully ripe and soft, they can become surprisingly tasty, something like a mix of melon and tomato, not that different from a pepino.

Do potatoes still grow after plant dies? ›

Do potatoes keep growing after the plant dies? Once the plant dies, the potatoes are finished growing in size. However, the skin on the potato does harden and cure to make it stronger for storage. We recommend leaving the potatoes in the ground for about 2 weeks after the plants have died off.

Is potato wart edible? ›

Potato wart is a soil-borne fungus that can remain dormant in a field for more than 40 years. Although potato wart poses no threat to human health or food safety, it has an impact on the economic return for potato growers by reducing yield and making potatoes unmarketable.

Can you eat the bumps on potatoes? ›

Potato scab is caused by the bacterium Streptomyces scabies. Though unsightly, scabby potato tubers are still edible. Simply peel the potatoes before use. Potato scab is most common in alkaline soils (soil pH above 7.0).

What causes gummy potatoes? ›

When too much starch gets released, the potatoes become gummy, gluey, and unappetizing. Overworking the potatoes can happen in a couple ways: either by simply handling them too much, or by using a food processor, blender, or similar tool, which mixes the potatoes too aggressively.

What are the white things coming out of my potatoes? ›

Answer: The white, raised spots on your potatoes are probably swollen lenticels due to wet soil conditions. Potato tubers are enlarged underground stems. Lenticels are small openings in the tuber surface that allow for gas exchange.

What is the white stuff growing from my potatoes? ›

White mold of potatoes is caused by the fungus Sclerotinia sclerotiorum (Lib.) de Bary.

Do you have to cut the eyes out of potatoes? ›

When potatoes start to sprout, they grow “eyes,” which tend to start off as small reddish-white bumps and can quickly turn into centimeters-long growths. But can you actually eat a sprouted potato? In short, yes, as long as you cut the sprouts away.

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