Mechanical Potato Bug Picker – Canada Agriculture and Food Museum


A potato farmer must battle the potato bug,
a beetle that is detrimental to the health of the potato plant
because it eats the leaves, an important source of nutrients.
Before the use of pesticides, farmers picked the bugs off the leaves by hand,
a time-consuming process. In the 1890s, Allan Hunter,
a Prince Edward Island inventor, devised a machine to replace this method
which he produced and sold to local farmers. Hunter’s Bug Picker was a device
that the farmer rolled between the rows
of potato plants. The paddles on either side of the machine
whacked the leaves, hitting the bugs off the leaves
and into a tray of kerosene below, thus killing the bugs.
This Bug Picker, one of a few still in existence, signifies the important contribution
of Prince Edward Island to the potato industry and the innovativeness
of Canadians in the agriculture industry.

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