Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Three Lined Potato Beetle - Lema daturaphila
If you live in New England and are a gardener, then there is a good chance you've been visited by one of these fellows. The three lined potato beetle first made an appearance in our garden on the ground cherries that volunteered by the side of our shed. These infested the plants and because of that I've been waging war against the ground cherries this year. That hasn't stopped them from making the jump over to other plants in the garden, and since I'm growing potatoes this year they have been their favorite target.
I spent the morning looking under the leaves of all of my potato plants for these little orange eggs. I removed close to a hundred of them in about a dozen eggs clusters. They scrape off the leaves easy enough and will pop if enough pressure is applied. Your hands will be orange until you wash them though, so it is not an approach for the squeamish.
I would have never noticed this guy except that it moved while I was examining the underside of the leaf it was on. I didn't know what it was at the time so it didn't get squished, but after identifying it as a three lined potato beetle larva they won't get a free pass in the future. I was really shocked to find out it wasn't something more exotic, it looks like it belongs in a coral reef not my garden.
I took this shot at the Macro's minimum focal length to try and get more detail. That pile of stuff on top of him is actually his own poop. They use it to discourage predators and to make gardeners think twice about picking them up and disposing of them. They've done a fair deal of damage, but nothing fatal, I'm going to keep controlling them through manual removal for now.