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.
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.

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