Clavate Tortoise Beetle: Essential Facts Uncovered

The Clavate Tortoise Beetle (Plagiometriona clavata) is a fascinating small insect with unique features. Found in North America, these beetles captivate observers with their vibrant colors, which range from brilliant brassy green to golden brown. The peculiar dome-shaped body, resembling a miniature turtle’s shell, further adds to their allure.

One fascinating characteristic of these beetles is their textured surface. They have a rough and tuberculate skin, setting them apart from other species in the subfamily Cassidinae. They mainly feed on plants from the Convolvulaceae family, such as morning glories and bindweeds, but can also be found munching on plants from the Solanaceae family, like tomatoes, beans, and peppers.

Clavate Tortoise Beetle Classification

Order Coleoptera

Clavate Tortoise Beetles, scientifically named as Plagiometriona clavata, belong to the Order Coleoptera. Coleoptera, known as beetles, comprises a diverse group of insects that currently includes over 350,000 described species worldwide.

Some features of beetles include:

  • Hardened wing covers, known as elytra
  • Chewing mouthparts
  • Well-developed hind wings for flight

Suborder Polyphaga

Within Coleoptera, Clavate Tortoise Beetles are classified under the Suborder Polyphaga. Polyphaga represents the largest and most diverse group of beetles, accounting for almost 90% of the described species within Coleoptera.

Superfamily Chrysomeloidea

Clavate Tortoise Beetles are part of the Superfamily Chrysomeloidea. This superfamily includes mainly leaf beetles and long-horned beetles known for their vibrant colors and patterns.

Family Chrysomelidae

Chrysomelidae, or leaf beetles, is the family in which Clavate Tortoise Beetles belong. With over 35,000 species, this family is known for:

  • Feeding on leaves, stems, and flowers of plants
  • Usually being small to medium-sized beetles

Subfamily Cassidinae

The Clavate Tortoise Beetle is a member of the Subfamily Cassidinae, also known as tortoise beetles. Key characteristics of this subfamily are:

  • Broad, flat bodies with a tortoise-like appearance
  • A unique “fecal fork” feature in their larvae

Genus Helocassis

Lastly, Clavate Tortoise Beetle falls under the Genus Helocassis. Synonyms for Plagiometriona clavata include:

  • Cassida clavata
  • Coptocycla clavata
  • Deloyala clavata
  • Helocassis clavata

Comparison Table

Feature Beetles (Order Coleoptera) Clavate Tortoise Beetle (Subfamily Cassidinae)
Appearance Hardened wing covers (elytra), diverse shapes and sizes Broad, flat body resembling a tortoise shell
Diet Varies greatly (plant, fungi or animal matter) Primarily plant feeders (leaves, stems, flowers)
Size Ranges widely from less than 1mm to over 100mm Generally small to medium-sized beetles
Diversity Over 350,000 described species worldwide Over 3,000 species within Cassidinae

The classification helps us understand how Clavate Tortoise Beetle is related to the broader group of beetles by examining its unique characteristics and features at each taxonomic level. By looking into its classification, we can better appreciate how this small, distinct beetle fits within the diverse and fascinating world of insects.

Physical Description

Size

The Clavate Tortoise Beetle is a small insect, typically measuring around 6-8 mm in length.

Some key features include:

  • Petite stature
  • Compact body shape

Color

These beetles display a translucent greenish-yellow color, often with a mottled pattern on their elytra.

Pronotum

The pronotum (the plate-like structure covering the thorax) is:

  • Broad
  • Convex
  • Heavily sculptured

Elytra

Elytra are the hardened forewings that protect the beetle’s hindwings and abdomen. In Clavate Tortoise Beetles, the elytra are:

  • Dome-shaped
  • Translucent
  • Patterned with irregular spots and markings

Hindwing

The hindwings of the Clavate Tortoise Beetle are:

  • Membranous
  • Folded beneath the elytra when at rest

These wings facilitate flight, allowing the beetle to easily move between host plants.

Abdomen

The abdomen of the Clavate Tortoise Beetle is:

  • Enclosed by expansions of the pronotum and elytra
  • Well-protected from predators
Feature Description
Size 6-8 mm in length
Color Translucent greenish-yellow
Pronotum Broad, convex, heavily sculptured
Elytra Dome-shaped, translucent, patterned
Hindwing Membranous, folded beneath elytra
Abdomen Enclosed and well-protected

Distribution and Habitat

North America

Clavate Tortoise Beetles can be found in various parts of North America, including the United States and Mexico.

Florida

In Florida, these beetles are particularly common, thriving in warm and humid environments.

Range

The range of the Clavate Tortoise Beetle extends through the southern United States, and down into Mexico, adapting to different habitats across this region.

Host Plants

  • Morning glory: A favorite food source for Clavate Tortoise Beetles, as they feed on the leaves.
  • Sweet potato: Another preferred plant, beetles consume the plant’s foliage, potentially causing damage.

Overall, considering the vast distribution and various host plants included, it’s clear that the Clavate Tortoise Beetle is a versatile and adaptable insect.

Biology and Ecology

Life Cycle

The life cycle of the Clavate Tortoise Beetle includes four stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. They typically prefer plants from the family Solanaceae as hosts1.

Larva

Larvae of the Clavate Tortoise Beetle have a unique appearance, with their head to the right and an anal fork with feces held above the larva2.

Pupa

In the pupa stage, the beetle undergoes a significant transformation as it develops into its adult form. This stage occurs within the host plant’s leaves.

Fecal Fork

Larvae use a fecal fork, a structure at their rear, to carry their fecal matter. This acts as a form of camouflage and protection from predators2.

Camouflage

Clavate Tortoise Beetles exhibit remarkable camouflage in both larval and adult stages. Adults display brilliant brassy green, golden, and brown colors, which help them blend with their surroundings1.

Behavior

These beetles are known for their secretive behavior, spending most of their time within the host plant, making them difficult to spot.

Season

The seasonal occurrence of Clavate Tortoise Beetles is not entirely understood. However, they generally depend on the availability of suitable host plants on which they can feed and lay their eggs.

Diet and Host Plants

Leaf

Clavate tortoise beetles feed on leaves of plants, particularly those in the nightshade family (Solanaceae) 1. They consume the leaf tissue, leaving behind characteristic holes or skeletonized veins.

Nightshade Family

The nightshade family of plants, Solanaceae, is a favorite host for the clavate tortoise beetle. A few of these plants include:

  • Potato leaves
  • Eggplant
  • Jimsonweed

Food

These beetles’ diet consists largely of foliage from the nightshade family of plants, which provide nourishment for both adults and larvae.

Potato Leaves

Clavate tortoise beetles are known to feed on potato leaves, potentially causing adverse effects on potato crops. Potato leaves are one of the more common host plants for these beetles in North American gardens.

Eggplant

Eggplants, another nightshade plant, also serve as a source of food for the clavate tortoise beetle. This can result in damaged eggplant plants in gardens and farms.

Jimsonweed

Jimsonweed is an additional host plant for these beetles in the Solanaceae family. Similar to potato leaves and eggplants, the beetles will feed on this plant’s foliage, causing potential harm.

Comparison of Host Plants:

Host Plant Nightshade Family Potential Damage
Potato Leaves Yes Moderate-high
Eggplant Yes Moderate
Jimsonweed Yes Moderate-low

In conclusion, the clavate tortoise beetle mainly feeds on plants in the nightshade family, such as potato leaves, eggplant, and jimsonweed. Their consumption of these plants can cause varying levels of damage to the plants, making them a potential concern for gardeners and farmers.

Interactions with Humans

Entomology Studies

The Clavate Tortoise Beetle is an insect that interests many entomologists due to its unique appearance and characteristics. Researchers study this beetle for:

  • Coloration: Its brilliant brassy green, golden, and brown colors
  • Shape: Dome-shaped with a conical peak near the middle

Insecta Collection

Insect collectors often include the Clavate Tortoise Beetle in their Insecta collections due to its visually appealing nature and intriguing features such as:

  • Length: 6.5 to 7.5 mm
  • Width: 5.5 to 6.3 mm
  • Markings: Dark markings seen in dead specimens
Feature Clavate Tortoise Beetle Comparison Insect
Size 6.5-7.5 mm (length)
5.5-6.3 mm (width)
Color Brassy green, gold, brown
Shape Dome-shaped

Note: The comparison insect has not been provided; please fill in the information accordingly.

Footnotes

  1. Clavate Tortoise Beetle – Plagiometriona Clavata 2 3

  2. Clavate Tortoise Beetle 2

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Clavate Tortoise Beetle

 

Subject: Odd leaf-eating bug in Maine
Location: Coastal Maine, USA
June 17, 2012 9:26 pm
I found this creature yesterday on a leaf. It’s smaller than a dime. Can you tell me what it is?
Thank you!
Signature: Zach

Clavate Tortoise Beetle

Hi Zach,
This is a Clavate Tortoise Beetle.  Since they feed on the leaves of tomato plants and related plants in the family, including peppers, eggplant and other cultivated plants, Clavate Tortoise Beetles attract more attention than the average Leaf Beetle.

Letter 2 – Clavate Tortoise Beetle

 

Quarter inch diameter wierd bug
July 21, 2009
Hi,
The first time i saw one of these, i just thought it was a strange growth on the leaf. They always seem to be on tomato plants. I was looking closely at this one, and after touching it a few times, it moved. I touched it again and it flew to another plant. I went and got my camera and got this picture. The clear like ring around it is actually the wings, or wing covers, i’m not sure. The antennai are facing down in the picture.
packrat
central Pennsylvania

Clavate Tortoise Beetle
Clavate Tortoise Beetle

Dear packrat,
This is a Clavate Tortoise Beetle, Plagiometriona clavata.  We also just posted a photo of the larva which is a spiny green creature that never completely sheds its exoskeleton.  The dried remnants of the cast of skin stay attached to the spiny larva.  The Tortoise Beetles are a tribe of the Leaf Beetle family Chrysomelidae.  Beetles are characterized as having two different sets of wings.  The outer wings are usually hardened and are termed the elytra.  The soft flying wings are protected under the elytra and only exposed during flight.  The elytra on the Clavate Tortoise Beetle which forms a carapace does contain clear areas and BugGuide describes the markings as:  “most noticeable feature in adult, covering much of the carapace, is a dark brown irregular patch shaped like a teddy bear, with the front and back “legs” of the “bear” extending to the outer margins of the elytra, and the “head” of the “bear” extending onto the pronotum.

Letter 3 – Clavate Tortoise Beetle

 

Very interesting bug I found
May 27, 2010
Hi there. I am writing from Oswego, NY which is straight north of Syracuse, NY on Lake Ontario. I am often outside taking pictures of various bugs, plants, flowers and anything cool I can find in the swamps and woods. Most of what I find is rather common….Until I found this little guy. It was about a cm wide. It has clear panels all around its shell. It has a hard shell and which is split down the middle and opens up like a beetle and has wings underneath. It also has small little antennas. So I definitely think it’s a type of beetle but no one I know has any idea what it is or has seen anything like it.
My mom often writes into your site and mentioned that I should show you the pictures. She is in the woods all the time as she does wild edible and Mycology walks and this one was new to her also. Curious to know if anyone has an idea what this cool little guy is. My mom mentioned it could be perhaps a young beetle of some type, not fully grown yet, as they can often look so different between growing stages.
Thanks so much for any information.
TJ
Oswego, New York

Clavate Tortoise Beetle

Dear TJ,
It truly warms our heart to hear that What’s That Bug? is bringing family generations together through an understanding of the natural sciences.  This is a Clavate Tortoise Beetle, Plagiometriona clavata, a species that is found over much of North America.  Both adults and the green spiny larvae feed on solanaceous plants in the tomato family, including jimsonweed and nightshade.
Daniel thanks so much for the quick response.  I have been a reader of the site for awhile and was well aware of how busy you are.  My mom is a huge inspiration for me.  I am 32 and am a single mom of 2 children.  She taught me growing up the beauty that is nature and I grew up in the woods. I recently bought a great camera and have been having a blast capturing all I can of it.  I have taken tons of pictures of bugs so far (I just learned how to use my macro lenses before I took the pic of my little Tortoise Beetle).  This was the only one that stumped me.  If I come across anything else I will be sure to send it your way.  I even found a Caddisfly larvae and my mom IDed it from your site.  I was going to send that in.  He made coolest construction of twigs.  I even took video of it I was so intregued LOL.
Well again thank you for answering my question.  I registered for the site as TJOswego and you can bet I will be back and sending others your way.  Oh yeah my Moms name is Nancy Kaiser.  She said she has written in.  She actually lives in Mexico, NY.  We are huge fans of your very cool page 🙂  Have a great weekend!!!

Letter 4 – Clavate Tortoise Beetle

 

Tortoise Beetle?
Your website was very helpful, since I had despaired of identifying a little beetle we found in Londonderry, Vt. (in late July) sitting on the edge of a bowl of watermelon. Is it a Tortoise Beetle? If the photo looks good on your site it may be better than the one you have. I enlarged the top view, but I left the upside-down view alone, as it shows the insect’s size. After the photo shoot it finally flew away!

Yes, this is a Clavate Tortoise Beetle, Deloyala clavata, or according to BugGuide, Plagiometriona clavata.

Letter 5 – Clavate Tortoise Beetle

 

I have no idea what this is
I found these on my husband’s Hot Pepper plants. They are about the size of a pea. They seem to always run in pairs. At least two on every leaf. There bodies are very hard. If you touch them the will tuck their legs and antlers in and laid kind of flat. I have never seen anything like them in all the years we have been growing these pepper plants. Here are a couple of pics. Thanks for your help.
Kristie

Hi Kristie,
This is a Clavate Tortoise Beetle in the genus Plagiometriona. They feed on pepper plants and other members of the tomato family Solanaceae.

Letter 6 – Clavate Tortoise Beetle

 

Tortoise beetle
Hi Daniel and Lisa,
My son rescued a tortoise beetle from our pool the other day. I was able to get some good shots in while it dried its wings. Please ignore my wrinkled finger… I promise I’ll get some better moisturizer : )
Yvonne
Barrie, Ontario

Hi again Yvonne,
Nice to hear from you again. We can always depend upon you to send us a great photo. Though we just posted some photos of a Clavate Tortoise Beetle, your photo shows the scale nicely.

Letter 7 – Clavate Tortoise Beetle

 

What is this?
Dear Bugman,
Found this bug on my pepper and tomato plants, I was wondering if you could tell me what it is? It is small, like the size of a lady bug, with a hard shell. It has wings, but didn’t appear to fly. I only noticed them when it tried to flip itself over. I looked online, and the closest thing I could find was something like the scale insect, but that doesn’t seem like a perfect match. Do you have any idea what this is? I guess my biggest concern is whether or not they are harmful to my vegetable garden plants. If it helps, I live in northern New Jersey. Please let me know if you can’t open the images, I will send them in another format. Thanks,
Chuck

Hi Chuck,
This is a Clavate Tortoise Beetle, Plagiometriona clavata, one of the leaf beetles. It feeds on the leaves of tomato plants and other solanaceous plants. There is more information on BugGuide.

Letter 8 – Clavate Tortoise Beetle

 

No its not a teddy bear!
Location: Mannford OK
June 1, 2011 9:15 pm
I saw this bug at my mother house June 1st in Mannford OK. The thing flew away.
Can you tell me what it is?
Signature: Marne

Clavate Tortoise Beetle

Dear Marne,
The markings on the elytra of the Clavate Tortoise Beetle do resemble the outline of a Teddy Bear.

Letter 9 – Clavate Tortoise Beetle

 

Mystery Bug
Location: Newmarket, Ontario
May 15, 2012 7:10 pm
Hi,
Saw this strange looking bug on our patio. It was able to fly and resembled a ladybug in flight. You can see it’s antennae sticking out – body underneath carapace was roughly same color (orange/red).
Signature: Rob

Clavate Tortoise Beetle

Hi Rob,
This distinctive beetle is a Clavate Tortoise Beetle,
Plagiometriona clavata.  Are you growing tomato plants on the patio?  According to BugGuide:  “plants in the tomato family (Solanaceae): ground-cherries (Physalis), Jimsonweed (Datura stramonium), and Solanum spp.; other reported host plants probably incidental.” 

Thank you! It was indeed on a tomato plant…
Rob

Letter 10 – Clavate Tortoise Beetle

 

Subject: Weird bug with turtle shape
Location: Southern Connecticut
May 21, 2013 1:09 pm
The bug crawled over to my friend, and we both hadn’t seen anything like it. She immediately noticed what looks like a turtle on the back of the bug, while the edges are semi-translucent. We brought it outside and it disappeared shortly after.
Signature: AF

Clavate Tortoise Beetle
Clavate Tortoise Beetle

Dear AF,
Obviously the Clavate Tortoise Beetle is aptly named if you thought it resembled a turtle.

Letter 11 – Clavate Tortoise Beetle

 

Subject: Bug in my vegetable garden
Location: Southern Connecticut
June 7, 2014 3:59 pm
I found this bug on a leaf of my eggplant plant in my vegetable garden. What kind of bug is it? Is it harmful to my garden? Will it eat the leaves off my vegetable plants?
Signature: ACR

Clavate Tortoise Beetle
Clavate Tortoise Beetle

Dear ACR,
This is a Clavate Tortoise Beetle,
Plagiometriona clavata, and according to BugGuide, adults and larvae feed upon:  “ground-cherries (Physalis), Jimsonweed (Datura stramonium), and Solanum spp. (Solanaceae).”  Those plants belong in the same family as eggplant, peppers and tomatoes.

Letter 12 – Clavate Tortoise Beetle

 

Subject: Never seen before
Location: Central maine USA
June 28, 2014 8:04 pm
Found this on sons water bottle at the golf course.
Signature: sean

Clavate Tortoise Beetle
Clavate Tortoise Beetle

Dear Sean,
Both adults and larvae of the Clavate Tortoise Beetle,
Plagiometriona clavata, feed upon the leaves of plants in the family Solanaceae which includes many commonly cultivated garden plants like tomatoes, peppers and eggplant.

Letter 13 – Clavate Tortoise Beetle

 

Subject: Cool looking lady bug do you know what this bug is?
Location: Meadville Pennsylvania 16335
May 20, 2016 1:02 pm
I just wanted to know if you knew what this bug is i know it’s a type of beetle maybe a dart beetle? I’m at work but as soon as I saw it i was amazed of how it looked and wanted to know if it’s rare for my location. I’m 25 years old and never seen a bug this cool looking from Pennsylvania. I’m a eagle scout and did have a lot of outdoors experience and did get a insect study merit badge. But if you can find out and let me know thanks.
Signature: By Samuel Juracko

Clavate Tortoise Beetle
Clavate Tortoise Beetle

Dear Samuel,
This is a Tortoise Beetle in the tribe Cassidini, most likely the Clavate Tortoise Beetle,
Plagiometriona clavata , which is pictured on BugGuide where it states it feeds upon:  “ground-cherries (Physalis), Jimsonweed (Datura stramonium), and Solanum spp. (Solanaceae).”

Letter 14 – Clavate Tortoise Beetle

 

Subject: Help
Location: Vermont
June 3, 2017 8:06 am
Please tell me what this ugly thing is ..
Signature: Jennifer Emery

Clavate Tortoise Beetle

Dear Jennifer,
We just posted another image of a Clavate Tortoise Beetle that was compared to “a robot gummy bear.”  Your submission is being post-dated to go live to our site later in the month when our editorial staff is on holiday.

Letter 15 – Clavate Tortoise Beetle

 

Subject: It looks like a robot gummy bear
Location: Dayton Ohio
June 3, 2017 8:26 am
This was suctioned to my patio door. It was about 1/4 inch in diameter. The “wings” encircled or covered the entire body, except for the antennae. The “wings” were transparent.
Signature: Ms

Clavate Tortoise Beetle

Dear Ms,
We love your description of a Clavate Tortoise Beetle as a “robot gummy bear.”  The description on BugGuide is:  “adult: dorsum with large dark patch shaped like a teddy bear, with ‘legs’ of the ‘bear’ reaching elytral margins and the ‘head’ extending onto the pronotum.”

Letter 16 – Clavate Tortoise Beetle

 

Subject: WHAT?
Location: Northeast Ohio
June 5, 2017 5:55 am
I’m not sure it’s a bug. It looks like suction cup to window. 70° outside, June.
Signature: Interested mama..

Clavate Tortoise Beetle

Dear Interested mama,
This is a Clavate Tortoise Beetle.  According to BugGuide, the food plants include:  “ground-cherries (
Physalis), Jimsonweed (Datura stramonium), and Solanum spp. (Solanaceae).”

Thank you very much!
In my 57 yrs of being a tomboy running around outside in Southwestern Ohio, I had never seen one…and neither had any of my almost 300 Facebook friends who weighed in. I will look at the info on this creature!

Letter 17 – Clavate Tortoise Beetle

 

Subject:  Looks like a bug with an amber encrusted frog on top
Geographic location of the bug:  Toronto, Canada
Date: 09/27/2017
Time: 02:43 PM EDT
Found this bug on my sliding door today. At first I thought a tiny frog was eating a bug, but it looked like it was encrusted in amber. It’s about 1cm in size, maybe smaller. Looking closer at my photos, the shape of the “amber” crust looks too perfect, so maybe it’s just the bug’s shell.
Any idea what this is?
How you want your letter signed:  Steven

Clavate Tortoise Beetle

Dear Steven,
We like your amber-encrusted frog observation as a description of the elytra of this Clavate Tortoise Beetle.  All three provided views are gorgeous and illustrative.

Clavate Tortoise Beetle
Clavate Tortoise Beetle

Letter 18 – Clavate Tortoise Beetle

 

Subject:  Clavate Tortoise Beetle
Geographic location of the bug:  Andover, NJ
Date: 09/26/2018
Time: 06:40 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi Daniel,
Just wanted to share a photo from today of a beetle I almost never see – a Clavate Tortoise Beetle.  I found this one trapped in the web of a cross orb-weaver, so quickly extricated it and pulled off the web strands.  (Usually, I don’t interfere, but I couldn’t bear to let this one become dinner).  This is only the third time I’ve seen one of these elusive little beetles.  A short while later, he took off.
How you want your letter signed :  Deborah Bifulco

Clavate Tortoise Beetle

Dear Deborah,
Thanks so much for sending in your image of a Clavate Tortoise Beetle.  As always, your detailed images are a wonderful resource for our readers who are trying to identify insects they find.

Letter 19 – Clavate Tortoise Beetle

 

Subject:  Identify a bug
Geographic location of the bug:  Eastern Wi.
Date: 06/12/2019
Time: 11:02 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  We found this bug in our house. Never seen one like it. Hard like she’ll, but it flies.
How you want your letter signed:  Motz

Clavate Tortoise Beetle

Dear Motz,
This is a Clavate Tortoise Beetle.  According to BugGuide they feed on:  “ground-cherries (
Physalis), Jimsonweed (Datura stramonium), and Solanum spp. (Solanaceae).”

Letter 20 – Clavate Tortoise Beetle Larva

 

Green bug on tomato plant
July 20, 2009
My friend showed me her quite perforated tomato plants and I saw at least two similar forms of this bug. Size is max 5mm, (I wish I had macro.)
This bug looks like a green pillbug that carries a shield over his body like a scorpio carries his tail. He waves with the shield, moves it up and down, and can even lie it flat behind his body.
The shield looks like a fly or insect from the top, somewhat triangular (or like the little bits that fly out of a birches blossom.) On a tomato leaf the green body nicely blends in and all you see is the dark crumbly shield.
It might be a Psyllid stage? But that shield is interesting.
HI?
Westchester, NY

Clavate Tortoise Beetle Larva
Clavate Tortoise Beetle Larva

Hello HI?,
This is the larva of the Clavate Tortoise Beetle.  There is a confirmation photo on BugGuide.
According to BugGuide, it “plants in the tomato family (Solanaceae) such as ground-cherries (Physalis spp.), Jimsonweed (Datura stramonium), Horse-nettle (Solanum carolinense), and nightshades (Solanum spp.)”  We also just received a photo of an adult and we will be posting that immediately after posting your letter. The dark crumbly shield is the remnants of the cast off exoskeleton from previous molts.  The adult is described on BugGuide as “most noticeable feature in adult, covering much of the carapace, is a dark brown irregular patch shaped like a teddy bear, with the front and back “legs” of the “bear” extending to the outer margins of the elytra, and the “head” of the “bear” extending onto the pronotum,” but, BugGuide does not mention that the rest of the carapace covering is transparent.

Letter 21 – Clavate Tortoise Beetle Larva

 

Subject: Strange Green Thing
Location: Brownwood, Tx
August 20, 2014 7:13 pm
This thing is located in a garden in Brownwood, Tx. The thing on its back seems to be attached.
Signature: thegnatfly

Clavate Tortoise Beetle Larva
Clavate Tortoise Beetle Larva

Hi thegnatfly,
This is the larvae of a Clavate Tortoise Beetle,
Plagiometriona clavata, and you can verify our identification on BugGuide. The attached thing is dried fecal matter.

Wow! Thank you so much! I will let my mom and others know about your site. It was found in her garden.

Letter 22 – Clavate Tortoise Beetle Larva

 

Subject: What’s That Bug?
Location: Oklahoma 73533
December 4, 2015 2:15 am
Hello guys! Please take a look at the picture, could not identify it by myself. These 3 creatures were on the flower on second picture.
Signature: Sasha VL

Clavate Tortoise Beetle Larva
Clavate Tortoise Beetle Larva

Dear Sasha,
This is a Clavate Tortoise Beetle Larva, and it carries around its own fecal droppings as a means of camouflage.  They feed on plants that are members of the morning glory family.

Letter 23 – 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.

Letter 24 – Clavate Tortoise Beetles

 

Tortoise Beetles on Tomato Seedlings
Hi!
Found these buggers on our tomato seedlings this morning, munching away. We ordered the plants from California. I’ve never seen them here in New York in all my 40 years of tomato gardening. Are they native to CA? Did I do a bad thing by ordering plants from there and potentially contaminating the east coast? Thanks for your help :-((
Cheers!
Claudia Dunitz

Hi Claudia,
There are two subspecies of the Clavate Tortoise Beetle, Plagiometriona clavata clavata and Plagiometriona clavata testudinaria. According to their ranges are BugGuide: “Plagiometriona c. clavata: Great Plains states east, plus se Canada (NB QC ON) Plagiometriona clavata testudinaria: AZ to LA, south to South America.” and “in H. c. clavata, the “legs” and “head” of the “bear” are as dark as its “body”, whereas in H. c. testudinaria, these extremities seem slightly paler than the “body” but I’m not sure whether this is a reliable difference.” If that distinction is reliable, you have the western subspecies and it can probably cross with the eastern subspecies, which will only confuse future taxonomists.

Letter 25 – Mating Clavate Tortoise Beetles

 

Subject: Unknown on my potato plants
Location: Norfolk, MA
June 9, 2014 7:00 am
This bug is on my potato plants in eastern Mass. Thie first time I found one I picked the leaf it was stuck to and took it to my CSA farmer, who had no ideas. They sort of suction onto the leaves. this year, there are more. I have some leaf damage, but not too bad. Then the other day my daughter was trying to get one to crawl/move, and away it flew! no visible wings when it’s sitting there, and it flies in a slow kinda clumsy way. Just trying to figure out if they are damaging to my garden, how to deal with them.
thanks!
Signature: Caroline

Mating Clavate Tortoise Beetles
Mating Clavate Tortoise Beetles

Hi Caroline,
These are mating Clavate Tortoise Beetles, and the adults and larvae feed on the leaves of plants in the family Solanacea, which includes potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and other similar garden crops.

Thank you!  I’ve never seen anything like these, and based on your identification I’ll leave them alone unless the leaf damage gets to be too much.  Then possibly beetle relocation program!  (though I have read they like tomato, pepper and squash plants, all of which I have this year)

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Clavate Tortoise Beetle

 

Subject: Odd leaf-eating bug in Maine
Location: Coastal Maine, USA
June 17, 2012 9:26 pm
I found this creature yesterday on a leaf. It’s smaller than a dime. Can you tell me what it is?
Thank you!
Signature: Zach

Clavate Tortoise Beetle

Hi Zach,
This is a Clavate Tortoise Beetle.  Since they feed on the leaves of tomato plants and related plants in the family, including peppers, eggplant and other cultivated plants, Clavate Tortoise Beetles attract more attention than the average Leaf Beetle.

Letter 2 – Clavate Tortoise Beetle

 

Quarter inch diameter wierd bug
July 21, 2009
Hi,
The first time i saw one of these, i just thought it was a strange growth on the leaf. They always seem to be on tomato plants. I was looking closely at this one, and after touching it a few times, it moved. I touched it again and it flew to another plant. I went and got my camera and got this picture. The clear like ring around it is actually the wings, or wing covers, i’m not sure. The antennai are facing down in the picture.
packrat
central Pennsylvania

Clavate Tortoise Beetle
Clavate Tortoise Beetle

Dear packrat,
This is a Clavate Tortoise Beetle, Plagiometriona clavata.  We also just posted a photo of the larva which is a spiny green creature that never completely sheds its exoskeleton.  The dried remnants of the cast of skin stay attached to the spiny larva.  The Tortoise Beetles are a tribe of the Leaf Beetle family Chrysomelidae.  Beetles are characterized as having two different sets of wings.  The outer wings are usually hardened and are termed the elytra.  The soft flying wings are protected under the elytra and only exposed during flight.  The elytra on the Clavate Tortoise Beetle which forms a carapace does contain clear areas and BugGuide describes the markings as:  “most noticeable feature in adult, covering much of the carapace, is a dark brown irregular patch shaped like a teddy bear, with the front and back “legs” of the “bear” extending to the outer margins of the elytra, and the “head” of the “bear” extending onto the pronotum.

Letter 3 – Clavate Tortoise Beetle

 

Very interesting bug I found
May 27, 2010
Hi there. I am writing from Oswego, NY which is straight north of Syracuse, NY on Lake Ontario. I am often outside taking pictures of various bugs, plants, flowers and anything cool I can find in the swamps and woods. Most of what I find is rather common….Until I found this little guy. It was about a cm wide. It has clear panels all around its shell. It has a hard shell and which is split down the middle and opens up like a beetle and has wings underneath. It also has small little antennas. So I definitely think it’s a type of beetle but no one I know has any idea what it is or has seen anything like it.
My mom often writes into your site and mentioned that I should show you the pictures. She is in the woods all the time as she does wild edible and Mycology walks and this one was new to her also. Curious to know if anyone has an idea what this cool little guy is. My mom mentioned it could be perhaps a young beetle of some type, not fully grown yet, as they can often look so different between growing stages.
Thanks so much for any information.
TJ
Oswego, New York

Clavate Tortoise Beetle

Dear TJ,
It truly warms our heart to hear that What’s That Bug? is bringing family generations together through an understanding of the natural sciences.  This is a Clavate Tortoise Beetle, Plagiometriona clavata, a species that is found over much of North America.  Both adults and the green spiny larvae feed on solanaceous plants in the tomato family, including jimsonweed and nightshade.
Daniel thanks so much for the quick response.  I have been a reader of the site for awhile and was well aware of how busy you are.  My mom is a huge inspiration for me.  I am 32 and am a single mom of 2 children.  She taught me growing up the beauty that is nature and I grew up in the woods. I recently bought a great camera and have been having a blast capturing all I can of it.  I have taken tons of pictures of bugs so far (I just learned how to use my macro lenses before I took the pic of my little Tortoise Beetle).  This was the only one that stumped me.  If I come across anything else I will be sure to send it your way.  I even found a Caddisfly larvae and my mom IDed it from your site.  I was going to send that in.  He made coolest construction of twigs.  I even took video of it I was so intregued LOL.
Well again thank you for answering my question.  I registered for the site as TJOswego and you can bet I will be back and sending others your way.  Oh yeah my Moms name is Nancy Kaiser.  She said she has written in.  She actually lives in Mexico, NY.  We are huge fans of your very cool page 🙂  Have a great weekend!!!

Letter 4 – Clavate Tortoise Beetle

 

Tortoise Beetle?
Your website was very helpful, since I had despaired of identifying a little beetle we found in Londonderry, Vt. (in late July) sitting on the edge of a bowl of watermelon. Is it a Tortoise Beetle? If the photo looks good on your site it may be better than the one you have. I enlarged the top view, but I left the upside-down view alone, as it shows the insect’s size. After the photo shoot it finally flew away!

Yes, this is a Clavate Tortoise Beetle, Deloyala clavata, or according to BugGuide, Plagiometriona clavata.

Letter 5 – Clavate Tortoise Beetle

 

I have no idea what this is
I found these on my husband’s Hot Pepper plants. They are about the size of a pea. They seem to always run in pairs. At least two on every leaf. There bodies are very hard. If you touch them the will tuck their legs and antlers in and laid kind of flat. I have never seen anything like them in all the years we have been growing these pepper plants. Here are a couple of pics. Thanks for your help.
Kristie

Hi Kristie,
This is a Clavate Tortoise Beetle in the genus Plagiometriona. They feed on pepper plants and other members of the tomato family Solanaceae.

Letter 6 – Clavate Tortoise Beetle

 

Tortoise beetle
Hi Daniel and Lisa,
My son rescued a tortoise beetle from our pool the other day. I was able to get some good shots in while it dried its wings. Please ignore my wrinkled finger… I promise I’ll get some better moisturizer : )
Yvonne
Barrie, Ontario

Hi again Yvonne,
Nice to hear from you again. We can always depend upon you to send us a great photo. Though we just posted some photos of a Clavate Tortoise Beetle, your photo shows the scale nicely.

Letter 7 – Clavate Tortoise Beetle

 

What is this?
Dear Bugman,
Found this bug on my pepper and tomato plants, I was wondering if you could tell me what it is? It is small, like the size of a lady bug, with a hard shell. It has wings, but didn’t appear to fly. I only noticed them when it tried to flip itself over. I looked online, and the closest thing I could find was something like the scale insect, but that doesn’t seem like a perfect match. Do you have any idea what this is? I guess my biggest concern is whether or not they are harmful to my vegetable garden plants. If it helps, I live in northern New Jersey. Please let me know if you can’t open the images, I will send them in another format. Thanks,
Chuck

Hi Chuck,
This is a Clavate Tortoise Beetle, Plagiometriona clavata, one of the leaf beetles. It feeds on the leaves of tomato plants and other solanaceous plants. There is more information on BugGuide.

Letter 8 – Clavate Tortoise Beetle

 

No its not a teddy bear!
Location: Mannford OK
June 1, 2011 9:15 pm
I saw this bug at my mother house June 1st in Mannford OK. The thing flew away.
Can you tell me what it is?
Signature: Marne

Clavate Tortoise Beetle

Dear Marne,
The markings on the elytra of the Clavate Tortoise Beetle do resemble the outline of a Teddy Bear.

Letter 9 – Clavate Tortoise Beetle

 

Mystery Bug
Location: Newmarket, Ontario
May 15, 2012 7:10 pm
Hi,
Saw this strange looking bug on our patio. It was able to fly and resembled a ladybug in flight. You can see it’s antennae sticking out – body underneath carapace was roughly same color (orange/red).
Signature: Rob

Clavate Tortoise Beetle

Hi Rob,
This distinctive beetle is a Clavate Tortoise Beetle,
Plagiometriona clavata.  Are you growing tomato plants on the patio?  According to BugGuide:  “plants in the tomato family (Solanaceae): ground-cherries (Physalis), Jimsonweed (Datura stramonium), and Solanum spp.; other reported host plants probably incidental.” 

Thank you! It was indeed on a tomato plant…
Rob

Letter 10 – Clavate Tortoise Beetle

 

Subject: Weird bug with turtle shape
Location: Southern Connecticut
May 21, 2013 1:09 pm
The bug crawled over to my friend, and we both hadn’t seen anything like it. She immediately noticed what looks like a turtle on the back of the bug, while the edges are semi-translucent. We brought it outside and it disappeared shortly after.
Signature: AF

Clavate Tortoise Beetle
Clavate Tortoise Beetle

Dear AF,
Obviously the Clavate Tortoise Beetle is aptly named if you thought it resembled a turtle.

Letter 11 – Clavate Tortoise Beetle

 

Subject: Bug in my vegetable garden
Location: Southern Connecticut
June 7, 2014 3:59 pm
I found this bug on a leaf of my eggplant plant in my vegetable garden. What kind of bug is it? Is it harmful to my garden? Will it eat the leaves off my vegetable plants?
Signature: ACR

Clavate Tortoise Beetle
Clavate Tortoise Beetle

Dear ACR,
This is a Clavate Tortoise Beetle,
Plagiometriona clavata, and according to BugGuide, adults and larvae feed upon:  “ground-cherries (Physalis), Jimsonweed (Datura stramonium), and Solanum spp. (Solanaceae).”  Those plants belong in the same family as eggplant, peppers and tomatoes.

Letter 12 – Clavate Tortoise Beetle

 

Subject: Never seen before
Location: Central maine USA
June 28, 2014 8:04 pm
Found this on sons water bottle at the golf course.
Signature: sean

Clavate Tortoise Beetle
Clavate Tortoise Beetle

Dear Sean,
Both adults and larvae of the Clavate Tortoise Beetle,
Plagiometriona clavata, feed upon the leaves of plants in the family Solanaceae which includes many commonly cultivated garden plants like tomatoes, peppers and eggplant.

Letter 13 – Clavate Tortoise Beetle

 

Subject: Cool looking lady bug do you know what this bug is?
Location: Meadville Pennsylvania 16335
May 20, 2016 1:02 pm
I just wanted to know if you knew what this bug is i know it’s a type of beetle maybe a dart beetle? I’m at work but as soon as I saw it i was amazed of how it looked and wanted to know if it’s rare for my location. I’m 25 years old and never seen a bug this cool looking from Pennsylvania. I’m a eagle scout and did have a lot of outdoors experience and did get a insect study merit badge. But if you can find out and let me know thanks.
Signature: By Samuel Juracko

Clavate Tortoise Beetle
Clavate Tortoise Beetle

Dear Samuel,
This is a Tortoise Beetle in the tribe Cassidini, most likely the Clavate Tortoise Beetle,
Plagiometriona clavata , which is pictured on BugGuide where it states it feeds upon:  “ground-cherries (Physalis), Jimsonweed (Datura stramonium), and Solanum spp. (Solanaceae).”

Letter 14 – Clavate Tortoise Beetle

 

Subject: Help
Location: Vermont
June 3, 2017 8:06 am
Please tell me what this ugly thing is ..
Signature: Jennifer Emery

Clavate Tortoise Beetle

Dear Jennifer,
We just posted another image of a Clavate Tortoise Beetle that was compared to “a robot gummy bear.”  Your submission is being post-dated to go live to our site later in the month when our editorial staff is on holiday.

Letter 15 – Clavate Tortoise Beetle

 

Subject: It looks like a robot gummy bear
Location: Dayton Ohio
June 3, 2017 8:26 am
This was suctioned to my patio door. It was about 1/4 inch in diameter. The “wings” encircled or covered the entire body, except for the antennae. The “wings” were transparent.
Signature: Ms

Clavate Tortoise Beetle

Dear Ms,
We love your description of a Clavate Tortoise Beetle as a “robot gummy bear.”  The description on BugGuide is:  “adult: dorsum with large dark patch shaped like a teddy bear, with ‘legs’ of the ‘bear’ reaching elytral margins and the ‘head’ extending onto the pronotum.”

Letter 16 – Clavate Tortoise Beetle

 

Subject: WHAT?
Location: Northeast Ohio
June 5, 2017 5:55 am
I’m not sure it’s a bug. It looks like suction cup to window. 70° outside, June.
Signature: Interested mama..

Clavate Tortoise Beetle

Dear Interested mama,
This is a Clavate Tortoise Beetle.  According to BugGuide, the food plants include:  “ground-cherries (
Physalis), Jimsonweed (Datura stramonium), and Solanum spp. (Solanaceae).”

Thank you very much!
In my 57 yrs of being a tomboy running around outside in Southwestern Ohio, I had never seen one…and neither had any of my almost 300 Facebook friends who weighed in. I will look at the info on this creature!

Letter 17 – Clavate Tortoise Beetle

 

Subject:  Looks like a bug with an amber encrusted frog on top
Geographic location of the bug:  Toronto, Canada
Date: 09/27/2017
Time: 02:43 PM EDT
Found this bug on my sliding door today. At first I thought a tiny frog was eating a bug, but it looked like it was encrusted in amber. It’s about 1cm in size, maybe smaller. Looking closer at my photos, the shape of the “amber” crust looks too perfect, so maybe it’s just the bug’s shell.
Any idea what this is?
How you want your letter signed:  Steven

Clavate Tortoise Beetle

Dear Steven,
We like your amber-encrusted frog observation as a description of the elytra of this Clavate Tortoise Beetle.  All three provided views are gorgeous and illustrative.

Clavate Tortoise Beetle
Clavate Tortoise Beetle

Letter 18 – Clavate Tortoise Beetle

 

Subject:  Clavate Tortoise Beetle
Geographic location of the bug:  Andover, NJ
Date: 09/26/2018
Time: 06:40 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi Daniel,
Just wanted to share a photo from today of a beetle I almost never see – a Clavate Tortoise Beetle.  I found this one trapped in the web of a cross orb-weaver, so quickly extricated it and pulled off the web strands.  (Usually, I don’t interfere, but I couldn’t bear to let this one become dinner).  This is only the third time I’ve seen one of these elusive little beetles.  A short while later, he took off.
How you want your letter signed :  Deborah Bifulco

Clavate Tortoise Beetle

Dear Deborah,
Thanks so much for sending in your image of a Clavate Tortoise Beetle.  As always, your detailed images are a wonderful resource for our readers who are trying to identify insects they find.

Letter 19 – Clavate Tortoise Beetle

 

Subject:  Identify a bug
Geographic location of the bug:  Eastern Wi.
Date: 06/12/2019
Time: 11:02 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  We found this bug in our house. Never seen one like it. Hard like she’ll, but it flies.
How you want your letter signed:  Motz

Clavate Tortoise Beetle

Dear Motz,
This is a Clavate Tortoise Beetle.  According to BugGuide they feed on:  “ground-cherries (
Physalis), Jimsonweed (Datura stramonium), and Solanum spp. (Solanaceae).”

Letter 20 – Clavate Tortoise Beetle Larva

 

Green bug on tomato plant
July 20, 2009
My friend showed me her quite perforated tomato plants and I saw at least two similar forms of this bug. Size is max 5mm, (I wish I had macro.)
This bug looks like a green pillbug that carries a shield over his body like a scorpio carries his tail. He waves with the shield, moves it up and down, and can even lie it flat behind his body.
The shield looks like a fly or insect from the top, somewhat triangular (or like the little bits that fly out of a birches blossom.) On a tomato leaf the green body nicely blends in and all you see is the dark crumbly shield.
It might be a Psyllid stage? But that shield is interesting.
HI?
Westchester, NY

Clavate Tortoise Beetle Larva
Clavate Tortoise Beetle Larva

Hello HI?,
This is the larva of the Clavate Tortoise Beetle.  There is a confirmation photo on BugGuide.
According to BugGuide, it “plants in the tomato family (Solanaceae) such as ground-cherries (Physalis spp.), Jimsonweed (Datura stramonium), Horse-nettle (Solanum carolinense), and nightshades (Solanum spp.)”  We also just received a photo of an adult and we will be posting that immediately after posting your letter. The dark crumbly shield is the remnants of the cast off exoskeleton from previous molts.  The adult is described on BugGuide as “most noticeable feature in adult, covering much of the carapace, is a dark brown irregular patch shaped like a teddy bear, with the front and back “legs” of the “bear” extending to the outer margins of the elytra, and the “head” of the “bear” extending onto the pronotum,” but, BugGuide does not mention that the rest of the carapace covering is transparent.

Letter 21 – Clavate Tortoise Beetle Larva

 

Subject: Strange Green Thing
Location: Brownwood, Tx
August 20, 2014 7:13 pm
This thing is located in a garden in Brownwood, Tx. The thing on its back seems to be attached.
Signature: thegnatfly

Clavate Tortoise Beetle Larva
Clavate Tortoise Beetle Larva

Hi thegnatfly,
This is the larvae of a Clavate Tortoise Beetle,
Plagiometriona clavata, and you can verify our identification on BugGuide. The attached thing is dried fecal matter.

Wow! Thank you so much! I will let my mom and others know about your site. It was found in her garden.

Letter 22 – Clavate Tortoise Beetle Larva

 

Subject: What’s That Bug?
Location: Oklahoma 73533
December 4, 2015 2:15 am
Hello guys! Please take a look at the picture, could not identify it by myself. These 3 creatures were on the flower on second picture.
Signature: Sasha VL

Clavate Tortoise Beetle Larva
Clavate Tortoise Beetle Larva

Dear Sasha,
This is a Clavate Tortoise Beetle Larva, and it carries around its own fecal droppings as a means of camouflage.  They feed on plants that are members of the morning glory family.

Letter 23 – 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.

Letter 24 – Clavate Tortoise Beetles

 

Tortoise Beetles on Tomato Seedlings
Hi!
Found these buggers on our tomato seedlings this morning, munching away. We ordered the plants from California. I’ve never seen them here in New York in all my 40 years of tomato gardening. Are they native to CA? Did I do a bad thing by ordering plants from there and potentially contaminating the east coast? Thanks for your help :-((
Cheers!
Claudia Dunitz

Hi Claudia,
There are two subspecies of the Clavate Tortoise Beetle, Plagiometriona clavata clavata and Plagiometriona clavata testudinaria. According to their ranges are BugGuide: “Plagiometriona c. clavata: Great Plains states east, plus se Canada (NB QC ON) Plagiometriona clavata testudinaria: AZ to LA, south to South America.” and “in H. c. clavata, the “legs” and “head” of the “bear” are as dark as its “body”, whereas in H. c. testudinaria, these extremities seem slightly paler than the “body” but I’m not sure whether this is a reliable difference.” If that distinction is reliable, you have the western subspecies and it can probably cross with the eastern subspecies, which will only confuse future taxonomists.

Letter 25 – Mating Clavate Tortoise Beetles

 

Subject: Unknown on my potato plants
Location: Norfolk, MA
June 9, 2014 7:00 am
This bug is on my potato plants in eastern Mass. Thie first time I found one I picked the leaf it was stuck to and took it to my CSA farmer, who had no ideas. They sort of suction onto the leaves. this year, there are more. I have some leaf damage, but not too bad. Then the other day my daughter was trying to get one to crawl/move, and away it flew! no visible wings when it’s sitting there, and it flies in a slow kinda clumsy way. Just trying to figure out if they are damaging to my garden, how to deal with them.
thanks!
Signature: Caroline

Mating Clavate Tortoise Beetles
Mating Clavate Tortoise Beetles

Hi Caroline,
These are mating Clavate Tortoise Beetles, and the adults and larvae feed on the leaves of plants in the family Solanacea, which includes potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and other similar garden crops.

Thank you!  I’ve never seen anything like these, and based on your identification I’ll leave them alone unless the leaf damage gets to be too much.  Then possibly beetle relocation program!  (though I have read they like tomato, pepper and squash plants, all of which I have this year)

Authors

  • Daniel Marlos

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

21 thoughts on “Clavate Tortoise Beetle: Essential Facts Uncovered”

  1. Noticed this dastardly looking Clavate tortoise beetle on my pepper and tomatoe plants for the first time in my life yesterday,and am well over the 70 mark. Where did they come from? Been gardening for over 50 years in many of the Northeast States and never saw one. How do I eliminate them from my garden?

    Reply
    • We generally hand pick pest species from our vegetable patch if we believe they are too numerous and detrimental to the plants.

      Reply
  2. I saw what I thought was a small turtle in the grass when I returned from getting my camera he was in the process of burrowing down under a porch. I wanted a better look at it and I flipped it on it’s back, it looked more like a beetle. The top was brown & shaped an oval round as a turtle would be. I did not touch the shell but it looked hard and even had damage around the base of it like turtles get from fighting etc. If you go to my facebook page you can view the pictures of it. When I turned it back over it began to disappear into the dirt, it was well camoflaged, looked like a small rock. The next day I looked in the same area that it disappeared and found the earth very soft.
    I live in the Navasota Texas area.
    Marie Kampbell

    Reply
  3. I saw what I thought was a small turtle in the grass when I returned from getting my camera he was in the process of burrowing down under a porch. I wanted a better look at it and I flipped it on it’s back, it looked more like a beetle. The top was brown & shaped an oval round as a turtle would be. I did not touch the shell but it looked hard and even had damage around the base of it like turtles get from fighting etc. If you go to my facebook page you can view the pictures of it. When I turned it back over it began to disappear into the dirt, it was well camoflaged, looked like a small rock. The next day I looked in the same area that it disappeared and found the earth very soft.
    I live in the Navasota Texas area.
    Marie Kampbell

    Reply
    • Found them on my eggplant leaves….they have eating many many holes almost every leaf of my sole potted eggplant!…I thought it looked like an alien too!

      Reply
  4. I found this Clavate Tortoise Beetle on a door in my house where I had hung a bunch of Chinese lantern plants to dry. Googled it on whatsthatbug site and eventually found it. I had never seen anything like it!

    Reply
  5. Thanks for identifying this bizarre looking bug! The markings were so unusual, and the “frog” pattern seemed to small to be an actual frog.

    Reply
  6. Yes, THANK YOU! My dog noticed I had one attached to me, so I put it in a container worried I’d be in trouble. You identified it for me (it SO much looks like Steven’s photos), so I released the little critter (I’m in Milton, ON)
    Thanks again

    Reply
  7. Yes, THANK YOU! My dog noticed I had one attached to me, so I put it in a container worried I’d be in trouble. You identified it for me (it SO much looks like Steven’s photos), so I released the little critter (I’m in Milton, ON)
    Thanks again

    Reply
  8. Found several on my tomato plants here in NW Wisconsin…and I believe they had been eating on my pepper plants… was told by a knowledgeable tree and plant teacher that permethrin will stop the attacks…hoping it works!

    Reply

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