Thursday, March 3, 2011

What is this Bug?

I get this question a lot. This month, the "bug" in question is this guy:

A leaf beetle. Now there are many types of leaf beetles, but they all have this general look. Many of them are iridescent in color (as you see here) and resemble the body shape of a cucumber beetle or skinny ladybug.

This particular leaf beetle likes to overwinter in grasses where they are protected. Now that its warming up, they are emerging, looking for mates, food, and a good place to lay their eggs. Both larvae and adults like to eat the newer, softer growth on plants. As your plants start to shoot out new growth, watch closely for damage.

Damage should appear to be small holes in the foliage or white slits in the plant as they feed.

Management can be difficult. Look for larvae that may appear to be shiny bird droppings and hand pick them or squash them. Otherwise, to prevent adult damage, cover plants that they prefer with a mesh cloth. Be sure to spray the plant with water or shake it well to scare off any beetles on the plant first. You may notice certain times of day get more damage - that would be an excellent time to cover the plant if you cannot keep it covered all day.