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  • Cottonwood Leaf Beetle - (Chrysomela scripta)

    Cottonwood Leaf Beetle - (Chrysomela scripta)

    True to its name, the Cottonwood Leaf Beetle can be found in groves and forests of cottonwood trees where its caterpillar will feast into maturity.

    Picture of Cottonwood Leaf Beetle
    Staff Writer (8/1/2017): Cottonwood Leaf Beetles have thick black stripes and spots on their elytra (wing covering). They have similar coloring to the pesky Colorado Potato Beetle, but a very different pattern making it easy to differentiate between the two. Adults are active in the spring when females begin laying groups of yellow, tubular fertilized eggs on the new leaf growth of cottonwood and willow trees. The larval caterpillars will feed on the leaves until they are developed enough to pupate. They then cocoon themselves right-side-up on leaves and emerge as adults in a relatively short span of time. In warmer regions, as many as 4 or 5 generation can be produced each year.

    Caterpillars are yellow with segments and side ridges that almost resemble the texture of alligators. Each ridged segment has a black dot and the tips share a black line that runs from head to rear. They chew the green parts of a leaf, leaving behind the veins, giving the leaf a skeleton-like appearance. Large numbers of Cottonwood Leaf Beetle caterpillars can defoliate young trees, harming their health and growth. Removing weeds in the vicinity of the trees where adults overwinter can help reduce the amount of reproduction that occurs in the spring. Spraying chemical insecticides on the affected tree can also control populations of this beetle.

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    Details of the:
    Cottonwood Leaf Beetle

    Category: Beetle
    Common name: Cottonwood Leaf Beetle
    Scientific Name: Chrysomela scripta

      Kingdom: Animalia
       Phylum: Arthropoda
        Class: Insecta
         Order: Coleoptera
          Family: Chrysomelidae
           Genus: Chrysomela
            Species: scripta

    Size (Adult, Length): 5mm to 9mm (0.20in to 0.35in)

    Identifying Colors: yellow, black, orange

    Additional Descriptors: stripes, dots, potato, flying

    North American Reach (Though Not Limited To*): Alabama; Alaska; Arizona; Arkansas; California; Colorado; Connecticut; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Hawaii; Idaho; Illinois; Indiana; Iowa; Kansas; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Minnesota; Mississippi; Missouri; Montana; Nebraska; Nevada; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New Mexico; New York; North Carolina; North Dakota; Ohio; Oklahoma; Oregon; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Carolina; South Dakota; Tennessee; Texas; Utah; Vermont; Virginia; Washington; West Virginia; Wisconsin; Wyoming; Alberta; British Columbia; Manitoba; New Brunswick; Newfoundland and Labrador; Nova Scotia; Ontario; Prince Edward Island; Quebec; Saskatchewan; Mexico

    * Keep in mind that an insect's reach is not limited by lines on a map and therefore may appear in areas/regions/states beyond those listed above.

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