Something like a Crowned Slug Caterpillar?
Location: Rolla, MO
April 29, 2012 11:49 pm
There were several of these on the Chinese lantern plant I purchased last year. I thought I’d removed them all, only to find they had multiplied and prospered at the expense of my plant while I was on vacation last year. The neat thing about them is that they carry some sort of baggage! They usually have it settled across their back, but sometimes carry it up high in the air. Perhaps they’re trying to camouflage to look like some sort of excrement?
Signature: Michelle Nash, Rolla, MO
You are being troubled by the larvae of a Tortoise Beetle, most likely a Clavate Tortoise Beetle. These beetles feed on plants in the tomato family including Chinese Lantern. You may also compare your photo to this image posted to BugGuide. Your observation about the baggage is correct. According to the Featured Creatures website: “The larva is a typical tortoise beetle type, but very unlike most other beetle larvae. The last abdominal segment has a special “fecal fork” which permits the attachment of dried fecal matter. This fecal mass is carried over the dorsum in the same form as “trash bugs” (Neuroptera), and presumably offers a degree of protection through camouflage. The body is green, flattened, and almost entirely fringed with whitish multispiculate projections.”