The multicolored Three-Lined Potato Beetle loves to eat a wide array of food plants making them a real pest.
This species larvae feed on the leaves of potato plants, nightshades like peppers, eggplant and tomatoes as well as tomatillos, the green 'tomatoes' used to make salsa verde. The larvae are grayish in color and are grub-like in form. Newly hatched Three-Lined Potato Beetles will congregate on a food plant and eat the leaves until only the middle vein remains. They secrete a frothy substance over themselves as they eat. Once the leaves of the plant have been completely devoured, the plant dies without bearing any edible vegetables.
They can be found in meadows, garden beds or cultivated fields. Three-Lined Potato Beetles resemble Striped Cucumber Beetles, but the potato beetle has a narrow 'waist' and the cucumber beetle does not.
Females will lay yellow eggs on leaves of the food plant. After hatching and eating the plant leaves, the larvae move to ground level and pupate in the dirt, emerging as adults. Up to two generations can be produced a year and adults can survive the winter. This makes the population growth somewhat rapid and destructive to food plants.
Scientific Name: Lema trilinea
Other Name(s): Potato Beetle, Potato Bug
Size (Adult; Length): 5mm to 8mm (0.20in to 0.31in)
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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.