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My poor new potatoes are suffering a nasty attack of early blight. Not quite as nasty as late blight, as the tubers don’t seem to get particularly badly hit, though the top growth is looking decidedly anaemic, not to say acne-ridden.

But that’s not what was worrying me this morning. As I bent to the fork to hoick the next lot of ‘Foremost’ into the colander I spotted this pair clamped to a leaf.

‘Oh, my goodness,’ I thought (or less printable words to that effect). ‘I’ve got colorado beetle!’

This is one of the alien invaders that everyone’s very, very nervous about. They skeletonise potato plants (and tomatoes, and aubergines): if you think blight is bad, it is as a minor sniffle compared to the colorado beetle.

The pest is established in France already: it can only be a matter of time before it skips the Channel. It’s certainly notifiable.

Now, normally the internet has just one function in these circumstances: convincing you that the headache you’ve suffered from all day is not a hangover but a terminal brain tumour. For once, though, it served to calm an over-heated imagination and demonstrate that actually, what you’ve got is rather less alarming than what you thought you’d got.

So on my way to the Defra website to send a panicky email to the appropriate authorities I discovered that this is what a real colorado beetle larva looks like.

(Released under commons licence)
As you can see, nothing like my little fellas. However the question remains unsolved: they are ugly little blighters and keep reminding me of ticks with the way they’re squat and tenacious and hold on with all their feet at the front. Here’s another pic.

So – any ideas? What have I got here? And should I – as I suspect I should – be doing something about them? Answers on a postcard (or failing that, in the comments section) please…

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