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Tortoise Beetles

July 5, 2000

A 1/4-inch round beetle that shines a bright gold color in the sunshine is probably a tortoise beetle. Both the adult and larva feed primarily on ornamental sweet potato and morningglory, but the adult may be found on a wide range of other plants. They can feed heavily enough to warrant control with carbaryl (Sevin) or another labeled insecticide. The elongate larva grows to 3/8 inch long and is covered with spines. For protection, the larva covers the end of its abdomen with its own feces and then curls its abdomen up over its back. These insects are relatively uncommon, but this year they seem to be more abundant. Although rarely needing control, it is useful to be able to identify such a striking insect for clients.

Author: Phil Nixon Susan Grupp Sandy Mason


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