1948: Beetle-mania in Quainton

Land Army girls helping rid crops of Colorado Beetles at Quainton in 1948
Land Army girls helping rid crops of Colorado Beetles at Quainton in 1948
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The Colorado Beetle infested Bucks in 1948 and Land Army girls were called in to help local farmers search out the pests and so combat the threat to potato crops.

The worst outbreak recorded locally was in Quainton, pictured here. The pest had a bright yellow/orange body and five bold brown stripes. The beetle was discovered in 1824 by Thomas Say from specimens collected in the Rocky Mountains on buffalo-bur, Solanum rostratum. The origin of the beetle is somewhat unclear, but it seems that Colorado and Mexico are a part of its native distribution in southwestern North America.

In about 1840, the species adopted the cultivated potato into its host range and it rapidly became a most destructive pest of potato crops.

The large scale use of insecticides in agricultural crops effectively controlled the pest until it became resistant to DDT in the 1950s. Other pesticides have since been used but the insect has, over time, developed resistance to them all.