Some people might remember the old song about the One-eyed, One-horned, Flying Purple People Eater. Well, this is the Three-lined, Two-horned, Flying Orange Potato Eater, aka the Three-lined Potato Beetle:
Given the name, one might assume that these little flying beetles mainly eat lots of potatoes, or at least potato leaves. While they do eat potatoes and anything in the nightshade family, including tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant, their favorite food is actually tomatillos.
I can vouch for this.
Both the adult beetles and the larvae devour the plant leaves. The larvae hatch from orange eggs that are laid in clusters, usually on the underside of the leaves along a vein.
The larvae of the Three-lined Potato Beetle quite possibly qualify for the prize of one of the most disgusting animals out there. When I first saw one, I wasn't sure if it was a slug or a little pile of poop.
|winner of the 'Ugliest Baby' award?|
I call it 'ewwww.'
|Sorry, but your offspring are just plain disgusting.|
|No!!! No making more babies on my tomatillo plants!|
For large gardens, if handpicking is too difficult, one can spray thoroughly with insecticidal soap or neem oil, which kills the eggs and larvae. Some growers will also use chemical means, such as permethrin, bifenthrin, or pyrethrin.
So far the handpicking has been working quite well, and my tomatillo plants are surviving and thriving despite the onslaught. My guard is up against these three-lined, two-horned, flying orange potato eaters, or in my case, tomatillo-eaters.
(Not to mention the poopy larvae, who sure look strange to me.)
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