Colorado potato beetle

(Leptinotarsa decemlineata)

Conservation Status
Colorado potato beetle
Photo by Alfredo Colon
  IUCN Red List

not listed


NR - Unranked


not listed


Colorado potato beetle is relatively small for a beetle but relatively large for a leaf beetle. It is a serious crop pest to potato growers. The insect rapidly evolves resistance to chemical pesticides. Many insecticides that once successfully controlled the beetle are no longer effective.

Adults are broad-bodied, ¼ to 7 16 long, and about wide. The body is oval when viewed from above (dorsally) and strongly convex when viewed from the side (laterally).

The hardened plate on the upper side of the thorax (pronotum) is orangish-yellow to yellowish-brown and three times as wide as long, nearly as wide as the base of the hardened forewings (elytra). The are two black longitudinal marks in the middle that often join to form a V-shape, and several smaller black spots on each side.

The elytra are long and cover the tip of the abdomen. They are pale yellow with a black inner margin and five black longitudinal lines on each side. The small triangular plate at the base of the elytra (scutellum) is black.

The head is yellowish-brown with a small triangular black mark in the middle. It is partially visible when viewed from above. The antennae are short, less than half as long as the body, and widely separated at the base. They are weakly clubbed (clavate), gradually enlarged as they approach the tip. The eyes are black and are not notched.

The legs are mostly yellowish-brown. The last part of each leg (tarsus), corresponding to the foot, is black and has five segments. The fourth segment is very short and is concealed within the broadened tip of the third segment, making the tarsus appear to have only four segments.

The larva is very plump, strongly convex, and brick red when young, becoming pink and finally orange as it ages. It is about ½ long when mature. It has two rows of black spots on each side, a black head, and six black legs.




Total Length: ¼ to 7 16


Similar Species

  No similar species in Minnesota  

Open grasslands, agricultural fields




Two overlapping generations: May to the end of the host plants growing season






Life Cycle


The female deposits masses of usually 20 to 60 bright orange eggs on the lower surface of leaves of host plants. After hatching the larvae pass through five distinct stages (instars). Mature larvae burrow ¾ to 2 into the soil to pupate. Adults of the second generation burrow shallowly into the soil to overwinter.


Larva Food


Larvae are found on the same species that adults feed on.


Adult Food


Leaves of mostly potato but also other plants in the Solanum genus.


Distribution Map



24, 27, 29, 30.


Prior to European settlement the Colorado potato beetle was found only in Colorado and neighboring states. The potato was introduced into North America in the 1600s and began to be widely grown in the early 1700s. By 1840 the potato reached the insects home range. By 1859 the insect had switched to the potato as its preferred host, and by 1874 it had spread all the way to the east coast. It is now present across North America, Europe, and Asia.




Common and very widely distributed



Coleoptera (beetles)  


Polyphaga (water, rove, scarab, longhorn, leaf and snout beetles)  




Chrysomeloidea (long-horned and leaf beetles)  


Chrysomelidae (leaf beetles)  


Chrysomelinae (broad-bodied leaf beetles)  









Common Names


Colorado beetle

Colorado potato beetle

potato bug

ten-lined potato beetle

ten-striped spearman









The hardened or leathery forewings on an insect used to protect the fragile hindwings, which are used for flying, in beetles and true bugs.



The developmental stage of arthropods between each molt; in insects, the developmental stage of the larvae or nymph.



The saddle-shaped, exoskeletal plate on the upper side of the first segment of the thorax of an insect.



The exoskeletal plate covering the rearward (posterior) part of the middle segment of the thorax in some insects. In Coleoptera, Hemiptera, and Homoptera, the dorsal, often triangular plate behind the pronotum and between the bases of the front wings. In Diptera, the exoskeletal plate between the abdomen and the thorax.



The last two to five subdivisions of an insect’s leg, attached to the tibia; the foot. Plural: tarsi.






Visitor Photos

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Dave Rodestrom

landed on my deck

  Colorado potato beetle    
Amanda Ferris

How can we control this pest safely?

  Colorado potato beetle   Colorado potato beetle
Alfredo Colon
  Colorado potato beetle   Colorado potato beetle
  Colorado potato beetle   Colorado potato beetle
  Colorado potato beetle   Colorado potato beetle
  Colorado potato beetle    Photos



  Colorado Potato Beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata)
Andree Reno Sanborn
  Colorado Potato Beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata)  
  Colorado Potato Beetle
Dave Beaudette
  Colorado Potato Beetle  

Leptinotarsa decemlineata




Visitor Videos

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Other Videos
  Everything you need to know about the Colorado Potato Beetle
Bonnie Bucqueroux

Published on Jun 13, 2013

When Bonnie Bucqueroux found a hard-shelled, humpback striped beetle munching its way through her potato patch, she went on a mission to learn all she could about options for controlling this pest. You can benefit from her research.

  Kartoffelkäfer (Leptinotarsa decemlineata) Colorado potato beetle Macro Movies
Chrigu wälti

Published on Sep 2, 2012

Kartoffelkäfer (Leptinotarsa decemlineata) Colorado beetle Macro movie vom Schädling.

  Colorado Potato Beetle
Carl Barrentine

Published on Jul 3, 2017

This short film introduces the Colorado Potato Beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata). Filmed at Grand Forks, North Dakota (03 July 2017).

  Colorado Potato Beetle (Chrysomelidae: Leptinotarsa decemlineata)
Carl Barrentine

Published on Jul 18, 2009

According to Eric Eaton and Kenn Kaufman, in their book 'Field Guide to Insects of North America,' this species "is native to Mexico, where it originally fed on burweed. As cattle were grazed further north, they spead burweed and the beetles followed, reaching Colorado about 1822. Previously, Pizarro had found the Incas cultivationg potatoes in South America and had shipped some to Spain. From there the crop made it to England and on to the states. Beetle and potato met in the midwest, the insect developing a preference for this new foodplant" (p. 160). Photographed at Grand Forks, North Dakota (18 July 2009).

  Colorado potato beetle larva feeding
Bug of the Week

Published on Jan 30, 2013

A Colorado potato beetle larva prefers potato leaves for its dinner, but may feed on a number of other plants in the family Solanacae.




Visitor Sightings

Report a sighting of this insect.

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Be sure to include a location.

Dave Rodestrom

Location: Sturgeon Lake in Pine County

landed on my deck

Colorado potato beetle

Amanda Ferris

Location: Farmington MN

How can we control this pest safely?

Colorado potato beetle

John Valo

For methods to control this insect in a garden without chemical pesticides, you can find some recommendations at The Spruce. Here is the link:

How to Get Rid of Colorado Potato Beetle Infestations Organically

Alfredo Colon
8/2 - 9/5/2019

Location: Woodbury, Minnesota

Colorado potato beetle

Alfredo Colon

Location: Woodbury, Minnesota

Colorado potato beetle

Alfredo Colon

Location: Woodbury, MN

Colorado potato beetle






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