Improved Scouting Procedures and Deployment of Physical Control Tactics for Colorado Potato Beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata, Say) in Wisconsin Potato Production

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2010: $9,742.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2012
Grant Recipient: UW-Madison
Region: North Central
State: Wisconsin
Graduate Student:
Faculty Advisor:
Russ Groves

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: potatoes


  • Crop Production: crop rotation
  • Education and Training: extension, on-farm/ranch research
  • Pest Management: cultural control, field monitoring/scouting, integrated pest management, prevention
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems


    Colorado potato beetle herbivory on cultivated potato is a significant issue for producers at all scales, from home gardeners to commercial producers. Depending on the extent of damage, Colorado potato beetle feeding can reduce yields below total loss thresholds. Controlling this annual pest can be accomplished with a diverse set of cultural, mechanical or chemical pest management techniques. However, for large scale production systems, insecticides remain the primary control tactic. To date many studies have experimentally demonstrated effective non-chemical management strategies for Colorado potato at smaller scales. In this study, we chose to improve and extend current cultural control strategies to growers at larger scales. Our objectives were two-fold, first, to predict potato beetle colonization intensity with landscape components surrounding potato fields. Results were integrated into current scouting practices to incorporate pest biology into the decision making process. Second, we transitioned effective physical control tactics (trench barriers) to test non-chemical management of potato beetle at the field scale. Though these objectives were conducted at a large scale (fields > 80 acres) all results are transferable to smaller production systems where non-chemical management strategies are critical pest management components. This project integrated improved scouting techniques to inform the placement of inexpensive cultural control tactics (e.g. trenches) thereby reducing beetle populations in the field. Adoption of research-based cultural control strategies could lessen insecticide reliance for management of Colorado potato beetle, and in doing so, limit impacts to non-target organisms, reduce grower input costs, and improving sustainability of potato production systems.


    For more than one hundred years Colorado potato beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata) management has relied heavily on chemical management of control (Casagrande 1987, Alyokhin 2009). Although successful control of this pest can be accomplished with pesticides, a high propensity for insecticide resistance development requires a diversified set of pest management strategies for control. Numerous studies have previously explored mechanical (Misener et al. 1993, Boiteau et al. 1994, Boiteau and Osborn 1999) and cultural (Weber and Ferro 1993, Weber et al. 1994, Hoy et al. 1996, Sexson and Wyman 2005) management strategies for Colorado potato beetle. Experimental findings were often logistically difficult to deploy beyond experimental scales. The objective of this project is to model how landscape features surrounding potato systems contribute to the colonization dynamics of CPB overwintering emergence and use this model to selectively scout and accurately deploy preventative cultural management tools to locations were landscape attributes are associated with intense early season CPB emergence and colonization. Completion of the outlined objectives will initiate the development and implementation of a more profitable, ecologically sound and sustainable industry. Research outcomes will further ongoing efforts to produce biologically-based, sustainable IRM and IPM tools for Midwestern potato producers and our proposed studies compliment several of the core goals of the NCR-SARE program by promoting site-specific integrated farming systems and enhancing environmental quality through a reduction of insecticide inputs.

    Project objectives:

    1) Validate spatially explicit colonization models to improve targeted, strategic scouting activities

    2) Evaluate spatially targeted beetle trenches as a physical barrier for early season CPB colonization.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.