A single adult Colorado potato beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata) has been identified in Hampshire.

Confirmation was made today (Friday, July 14) by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) following laboratory testing of samples.

This follows what Defra and the APHA have called an “unrelated outbreak” of the beetle in Kent, earlier this week.

The APHA has since removed the beetle from the Hampshire location and will be conducting surveys in gardens, potato crops and land around the finding to ensure there are no other Colorado beetles present.

UK Chief Plant Health Officer Nicola Spence said: “The beetle was swiftly removed by the Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate and there is no evidence to suggest this finding is connected to the outbreak in Kent.

“Whilst this pest does not pose a threat to human health, we encourage all growers, farmers, processors and the public to remain vigilant and report any sightings.”

If not eradicated, the Colorado potato beetle is a significant threat to potato crops.

The adult beetles and larvae feed on the foliage of potato and other plants in the nightshade family, i.e. tomatoes, aubergines, peppers, and can completely strip them of their leaves if they are left uncontrolled.

It is currently regulated as a Great Britain quarantine pest and the APHA is obligated to support efforts to maintain this status.

The beetles are occasionally brought into the UK from continental Europe as ‘hitchhikers’ on non-host plant material.

In the past 70 years, there have been two outbreaks of Colorado potato beetles in the UK, one in 1976 and one in 1977. Both outbreaks were eradicated shortly after detection.

Sighting of the beetle should be reported to the APHA.