The native home of the Colorado Potato Beetle is the American West from which it has spread around the world eating potato plants. After adult beetles mate, each female deposits 500 eggs on a potato leaf. The larvae emerge and eat the leaves for about three weeks. Feeding by the beetles can defoliate plants, killing them, or significantly reducing their yields.
“The Colorado potato beetle (CPB), native to the south-west United States and Mexico, is the most important agricultural insect pest throughout North America, Europe and parts of Asia. … The beetle invaded China in the 1990s from Kazakhstan. Since then, it has spread eastwards by more than 40 km per year and is currently distributed throughout most of the northern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Foliage damaged by the CPB is a serious threat to potato crops in northern Xinjiang.”
“The beetles consume the leaves of the potato plants, causing a 30-50% reduction in yield each year, with no gain at all in some fields. … Insecticide treatments are currently indispensable and effective in CPB control.”
“Increasing the scale of potato farming is now seen as an important measure in resolving the food crisis and overcoming poverty in provinces such as Gansu, the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region… where the acreage of potato crop reaches over 1 million ha. Therefore, controlling the damage and spread of the CPB has become an important issue in China.”
Authors: Zhaoxu Zhou, Jinhuan Pang, et al.
Affiliation: State Key Laboratory of Plant Genomics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
Title: Evaluation of the resistance of transgenic potato plants expressing various levels of Cry3A against the Colorado potato beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata Say) in the laboratory and field.
Publication: Pest Management Science. 2012. 68(12):1595-1604.
A transgenic solution for this problem was once commercialized in the US until the threat of protests convinced major fast food outlets to create a defacto-ban for brand protection reasons. The Chinese certainly have that option, but they would be wise to have a very good resistance management strategy in place like co-expression of two, non-cross resistant Bts