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red worms on potato plants

 
T. Pierce
Posts: 254
Location: Virginia
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plants were growing great.  past couple of days some small red worms on them.  at the first quick glance they looked like lady bugs all over them. but they were worms  all humped up and red colored.  eating the leaves.  ive killed them past couple of mornings. but i see the plants are starting to stress.....what are these worms and what can be done to kill them other than by hand??  any suggestions or experiences are appreciated.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
Posts: 985
Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
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Sounds like you may have infant Colorado Potato Beetles.  Can you post a picture?  If that's what it is, kill all you can find.  Look at the undersides of every leaf (I hope your patch isn't too big!) and kill/smoosh the clusters of tiny orange eggs you'll see attached there.  Catch and kill any adult beetles you find -- they tend to drop off the plants onto the ground when disturbed, so watch carefully.  In my experience, even chickens won't eat them (probably taste nasty due to the solanins in their diet), so dump them into a container with oil in it until they are dead, then compost.  These things can strip a large potato patch down to the ground, eating even the stems, almost overnight.  So don't let them get a foothold!  They will also eat other things in your garden -- check any tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants, and even the beans and such. 

Kathleen
 
Rob Sigg
Posts: 715
Location: PA-Zone 6
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Agreed. I have found that keeping them really covered well helps. I used a little grill starter, the kind with wind resistant flame, and burned the little creeps off. This was last year...I have seen a few eggs this year and those were squished.
 
James Stark
Posts: 79
Location: Manitoba Canada
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10 cups water, 1 cup raw, unpasturized milk (pasturized milk is missing the helpful microbes), a bunch of crushed garlic (a good handful), and a teaspoon of cayenne pepper powder. Let it all soak together for an hour, then strain through a nylon stocking into a garden sprayer. Spray tops and bottoms of plants thoroughly. Do it in the evening, since it needs to sit on the plants overnight.

Just as a side note, all the books I've ever read say that chickens won't eat potato bugs, but I guess my chickens never read any of those books, cuz they love em. They spend about an hour just before the sun goes down in the tater patch eating the bugs every evening.
 
T. Pierce
Posts: 254
Location: Virginia
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Rob S. aka Blitz wrote:
Agreed. I have found that keeping them really covered well helps. I used a little grill starter, the kind with wind resistant flame, and burned the little creeps off. This was last year...I have seen a few eggs this year and those were squished.


covered, as in covering the entire plant??  even if the plant is 2 ft. tall?
 
Rob Sigg
Posts: 715
Location: PA-Zone 6
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Not the entire plant, I leave a good 3-6 inches exposed so it gets light. But yes you can get them well over 2 feet in length which is why some people including me grow them in deep systems.
 
                            
Posts: 158
Location: Abilene, KS
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I pick off what I see which is just a few and spray with soapy water.  Worked for me last year, but I caught them early. 
 
T. Pierce
Posts: 254
Location: Virginia
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i only have a few plants.  my wife doesnt eat white potatoes, and i rarely do.  so not a big crop at all. ive been killing the worms everyday.  and now im down to just a couple in the mornings.  the plants are hanging in there so far.  but im thinking that by what others are saying here.  high nitrogen could be part of the problem. cause of the fresh horse manure i put in the beds.  no doubt the nitrogen is way up there.

thanks for the replys people. the suggestions have been duly noted for future problems.
 
                              
Posts: 6
Location: Sequim. WA
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James Stark wrote:
10 cups water, 1 cup raw, unpasturized milk (pasturized milk is missing the helpful microbes), a bunch of crushed garlic (a good handful), and a teaspoon of cayenne pepper powder. Let it all soak together for an hour, then strain through a nylon stocking into a garden sprayer. Spray tops and bottoms of plants thoroughly. Do it in the evening, since it needs to sit on the plants overnight.

Hello from a newbie.  Would organic yogurt work for this recipe?  Haven't spotted any beetles, but forwarned...

Just as a side note, all the books I've ever read say that chickens won't eat potato bugs, but I guess my chickens never read any of those books, cuz they love em. They spend about an hour just before the sun goes down in the tater patch eating the bugs every evening.


Are you able to let your chickens in the patch without causing destruction to plants?  Appreciate any info-my neighbor's clucks tend to roam our way...
 
James Stark
Posts: 79
Location: Manitoba Canada
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I find the chickens do very little damage to the plants themselves. Once in a while a chicken will scratch for bugs at the base of the plant, but they don't eat the plants at all, so as long as they are established I've had no losses due to the chickens.
 
                              
Posts: 6
Location: Sequim. WA
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James Stark wrote:
I find the chickens do very little damage to the plants themselves. Once in a while a chicken will scratch for bugs at the base of the plant, but they don't eat the plants at all, so as long as they are established I've had no losses due to the chickens.


This might make a difference in our worries about straying poultry.  Are they a problem with corn or squash?  There are also ducks,geese and turkeys which haven't gotten out...yet
 
James Stark
Posts: 79
Location: Manitoba Canada
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My chickens don't do any harm to my corn, but they can't get at it until it's about a foot tall, so it may be a different story with seedlings. I don't grow pumpkins or squash, and don't have experience with waterfowl and turkeys, so that will have to be answered by someone who does.
Chickens can make quite a mess of a garden, but I've only had problems with seedlings. Once it's well established they don't do much harm at all, and I always make sure to plant extra so they can have their share of what they like and still leave enough for me. The only thing they do a lot of damage to here is tomatoes. They seem to peck a single hole in every tomato as soon as it starts to ripen. Now I just have a small fence around the tomatoes and have no problems with the chickens in the garden. (They prefer to rummage through the compost pile for most of the day.)
 
                              
Posts: 6
Location: Sequim. WA
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We could lure the chickens into the pathways between the planting rows to keep the grass down.  I thought about fencing off the corn, potatoes, etc., but it sounds like that might not be necessary. 

Planting beds with tomatoes and peppers are separate, would have to be fenced off.  Sweet peas are planted next to a fence to climb.  They might be vulnerable.

There is something out there about major monoculture producers using ducks in the fields to weed, but this may have been before herbicidal maniacs took over.
 
Andrew Ray
Posts: 162
Location: Slovakia
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James Stark wrote:
I find the chickens do very little damage to the plants themselves. Once in a while a chicken will scratch for bugs at the base of the plant, but they don't eat the plants at all, so as long as they are established I've had no losses due to the chickens.


I saw about 5 colorado potatoes beetles on my potatoes this year (my first year planting any).  The early potatoes I had intended to fence off from the ducks, chickens, etc. but was delayed in building the fence.  The plants grew up pretty quick, and the ducks and chickens spent a lot of time in them moving around them, but not damaging them much.  Everyone else in the village sprays for the beetles, so I have to agree that poultry eat them, though I can't say for sure whether ducks or chickens are better.

However, I have seen ducks and geese eat very small potatoes plants with our second planting, so maybe the plant isn't very poisonous at first, or maybe I wasn't feeding them enough.

It is my opinion that the ducks and chickens made a big difference, but one should keep them away from the potatoes for a bit after they emerge.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://stoves2.com
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