What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

A black and white striped insect with rust colored legs.
May 31, 2009
I found this insect crawling on me while gardening. It seems inoffensive; despite me picking it up several times, it never tried to bite. The body was about 7mm long; with legs fully extended, it was about 1cm long. It has wings, but seems reluctant to use them; it never tried to escape by flight, only by crawling. I apologize for the poor photograph; my camera needs a macro lens to take better shots this close, and I have not yet purchased on. This was in late May of 2009, 70 degree temperatures, in central Maryland.
Central Maryland (suburb of Baltimore)

False Potato Beetle

False Potato Beetle

Dear Commander Balok,
This is a False Potato Beetle, Leptinotarsa juncta.  According to BugGuide, it can be distinguised from its close relative, the notorious plant pest the Colorado Potato Beetle, in the following manner:  “Similar to Colorado Potato Beetle (1), but elytral punctures are regular instead of irregular. Also, a brown stripe at the center of each elytron (wing cover) and on the inner edge of each elytron (where they meet down the middle) distinguish this species.”
BugGuide has this to say about the similar looking Colorado Potato Beetle:  “Before the introduction of the potato in the US this beetle was confined to Colorado and neighboring states feeding on some native species of Solanum (night shade), now it has spread to most potato growing areas.  It has been transported to Europe where it has become a serious pest.”
Of the False Potato Beetle, BugGuide indicates:  “According to the University of Florida, the False Potato Beetle ‘is found primarily on the common noxious weed, horse-nettle, Solanum carolinense. It also feeds on other solanaceous plants, such as species of ground cherry or husk tomato, Physalis spp., and common nightshade, Solanum dulcamara.'”

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

5 Responses to False Potato Beetle

  1. 1stproject16 says:

    This was very helpful! I was not sure if I had found a Colorado potato beetle, or a fake!
    I am now sure this beetle is an impostor.
    Thanks, Josiah

  2. raven says:

    yeah i saw one of these once. went to show it to a friend and he almost smashed it completely. one of its wing covers cracked off though, and i can confirm that the wings are a pretty looking transparent red shade.

  3. Casey says:

    I picked up one of these little guys and it looked like it was playing dead, it locked its legs out and didn’t move until I put it back down, is this something these normally do? I haven’t been able to find anything on that

    • bugman says:

      Many insects “play dead” when disturbed.

    • PBK says:

      I just had this happen with one on my front porch! I wanted to move him from a leaf to my porch, to take a picture, and he played dead for nearly 10 minutes! I thought I had killed him. LOL

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