Colorado beetle catcher deals with lazy potato pest

A colorado beetle in action. Photo:
A colorado beetle in action. Photo:

Potato growers and agricultural machine builders in Biddinghuizen have come up with a way to deal with colorado beetles without using pesticides.

Infestations by colorado beetles, a North American import, have been increasing because of rising temperatures. Its larvae can devastate a field of potato plants in a very short time.

To remove the colorado beetle and its ravenous larvae, all the farmer has to do is to attach a machine with rotating plastic flaps to his tractor and swat them off the plants.

The insects are then deposited in a container and left. That gives other insects, like spiders or ladybirds, which have also fallen victim to the beetle catcher, time to recover and make their way out, leaving just the colorado beetles which are subsequently drowned.

‘They seem to be too lazy to come out and are content with munching on the leaves that have come off in the swatting process,’ Ard Klompe of agricultural innovators FieldWorkers told local broadcaster Omroep Flevoland.

The new machine is a great solution for organic farmers but traditional farmers are interested too, as chemicals have been going up in price.

The Flevoland provincial authorities earmarked some €100,000 for the development of the beetle catcher. Five will be built this year and developers are hoping to double that number next year.

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