Effective ways to rid a garden of potato bugs include sprinkling wood ashes on the garden, physically removing bugs from the plant and smoking the bugs out with a fire. Diatomaceous earth and neem oil are also effective in eradicating these pests.
Potato bugs are difficult to kill, so methods used to remove them from plants often focus on physically removing the bugs rather than killing them. One way to remove potato bugs from plants is to physically pick them off and drown them in a jar of water. Sprinkling a thick layer of ash made from burning wood on the potato plants discourages the bugs from returning. If picking the bugs off of plants is too time consuming, an alternative is to build a wood fire in the potato patch. This scares off the bugs, though it is not highly effective in preventing their return.
Another way to address a potato bug infestation is to apply need oil to the potato plants. This natural oil is safe for the potato plants, but it slowly breaks down the bug's exoskeletons causing them to dry out and die. Diatomaceous earth is a powder made from the exoskeletons of algae. Sprinkling it on potato plants helps drive away potato bugs by cutting into the waxy coating on their skin and potentially killing them.