Image Credit: Royce C. taken at the WCCER near Prescott, AZ
The tomato-colored Reddish Potato Beetle is a Sonoran Desert native, standing out in gardens and chapparal.
The bright Reddish Potato Beetle is a close cousin to the very destructive Colorado Potato Beetle. Though it is named after a tuber, the beetle and its larvae feast on a variety of plants: tomatoes, eggplants, bell peppers, chili peppers, tomatillos, and tobacco. These, plus petunias, are all member of the Nightshade plant family. The Reddish Potato Beetle is not considered a huge agricultural pest likely because of its limited range. That does not exempt it from being a nuisance in the garden or field. It is used as a test subject for developing biological agents that aim to kill and control the Colorado Potato Beetle. Despite its bright warning coloration, the Reddish Potato Beetle is actually harmless to people.
Reddish Potato Beetles can be found on the foliage of nightshade plants. Their larvae can be found by digging at the roots of these plants since these grubs eat away at the plant from underneath it. The fiery red adults can also be spotted hanging out on native mesquite, jojoba, and other shrubs in semi-wooded areas.
Scientific Name: Leptinotarsa rubinigosa
Other Name(s): Tomato-colored Leaf Beetle
Size (Adult; Length): 8mm to 11mm (0.31in to 0.43in)
Colors: red, black
Descriptors: round, flying, destructive, pest, garden pest, crop pest
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Antennae: Beetles have a pair of antennae on the head used as sensors.
Head: The head is home to the insect's eyes, antennae, and mandibles (jaws).
Thorax: Holds the three pairs of legs as well as vital internal organs.
Elytron: One of two wing cases on a Beetle that protects its wings (plural: elytra).
Wings: Appendages used for flying and kept under the elytra until needed.
Abdomen: Houses organs related to circulation, reproduction, and excretion.
Legs: Beetles have three pairs of legs located at the thorax, numbering six legs in all.