Potato worms? Help!

Discussion in 'Fruit and Vegetable Gardening' started by The Sauce, Aug 18, 2008.

  1. The Sauce

    The Sauce Member

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    Location:
    Sudbury, Ontario, Canada
    Hi all,

    I ordered some potatoes from a reputable company, and these potatoes were planted in 2 totally separate gardens (mine and my parents). I just dug up a few of the earliest ones, and they are awesome. Unfortunately when my parents dug up their potatoes they were covered in worms or maggots (??). They tried growing potatoes several years ago in a garden bed adjacent, but not connected to the one they used this year, and the same thing happened. I'm not sure what these are, and why they appeared in their garden and not mine. They were burrowing right into the potatoes themselves, and causing quite a bit of damage. Does anyone know anything about what these might be, and how to prevent them if possible?

    P.S. We are in Northern Ontario, zone 3b/4a. Our potatoes were planted within a week of each other (mid June), and had sprouted nicely and looked healthy at the time of planting.

    I've attached a couple of pictures:

    Thank you!
     

    Attached Files:

  2. Katalina25

    Katalina25 New Member

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    Oh what a damn shame,

    In all my times as an allottment holder I never had such a problem with our potatoes. Its certainly a pest according to Google.

    http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/ent/notes/Vegetables/veg3.html

    Maybe next year look for a strain of spuds that does'nt attract that moth, or maybe even try collars so the moth can't get near the root. We used to have the collars to deter the carrot fly round the carrots so I think something like that.
     
  3. Durgan

    Durgan Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Thanks for the pictures of the Potato tuberworm. I have never encountered this worm, and hope I never do. Forewarned is forearmed. I will now take more precautions with my potatoes to eliminate the possibly of such an outbreak. Thank you Katalina25 for identifying the "beast".
     
  4. Katalina25

    Katalina25 New Member

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  5. Thean

    Thean Active Member 10 Years

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    Howdy The Sauce,
    Looks like millipede to me. These are harmless cretures normally found in soils with high OM. In my case, they do tunnel into fruits lying on the ground, like strawberries or fallen pears and apples. I guess in this case they found the tubers more appeticing.
    Peace
    Thean
     
  6. The Sauce

    The Sauce Member

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    Thanks Thean,

    After I read your post, I remembered that I have a friend who works as a invertebrate taxonomist - so I passed a "specimen" along to her. She found 2 different organisms near the potatoes. One was a worm (true worm ie. Oligochaete) and the other was a millipede. It was sort of difficult to tell which were the ones actually burrowing, as there were many just hanging around in the dirt covering the potato. But we finally managed to actually pull one out of a hole in the potato, and found it to be the millipede. I can't say that the worms were not doing any damage just because we didn't catch them in the act, but I think the millipedes are certainly doing some damage.

    I think it's still possible that the millipede was inflicting secondary damage, and that something else caused the initial damage. Known culprits would be the aforementioned potato tuberworm, or else wireworms. Neither of these are true worms though, so they aren't the worm I found near my potatoes.
    Here's a good link I found:
    http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/hort/news/hortmatt/2007/25hrt07a3.htm

    Note: the millipedes we found were not dark, but actually quite light, and when you looked closely, even with the naked eye you could see the multiple legs.

    I think I'm going to consider the millipedes we found to be the culprit, and now have to figure out how to get them to stop ruining the potatoes. From reading the info in the link above, it seems that the weather we've had this summer (extremely cool and wet) is the perfect storm for the millipedes to go wild and cause significant root crop damage.

    Thanks for all of your input!
     

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