Clavate Tortoise Beetle Larva on Tomato Plant

Subject:  bug with debris on top
Geographic location of the bug:  southeast Louisiana
Date: 06/03/2020
Time: 08:15 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  There were three of these critters on a tomato plant this May.  At first I just though they were large frass or small bird dropings.  On a closer look, I saw there were leg-like projections. I gently teased the debris off of one and discovered a beautiful, delicite being with what looked like a smiling frog face staring up at me.
How you want your letter signed:  Art

Clavate Tortoise Beetle Larva

Dear Art,
This is the larva of a Clavate Tortoise Beetle, Plagiometriona clavata, and the debris on its back is fecal matter and it thought to act as camouflage or protection for the larva.  Here is a BugGuide image.  According to BugGuide food plants include:  “ground-cherries (Physalis), Jimsonweed (Datura stramonium), and Solanum spp. (Solanaceae)” and tomatoes are in the family Solanaceae.

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