The multicolored Three-lined Potato Beetle loves to eat a wide array of food plants making them a garden pest.
This larvae of the Three-lined Potato Beetle 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 congregate on a food plant and eat its leaves until only the central veins 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.
Adults have red heads and black eyes. The red pronotum has two black dots on it. Yellow wing coverings have three black stripes on them. Their stripes resemble Striped Cucumber Beetles, but head colors are different and the potato beetle has a narrow 'waist' while the cucumber beetle does not. Three-lined Potato Beetles can be found in meadows, garden beds, or cultivated fields.
Females lay yellow eggs on leaves of a food plant. After hatching and eating the plant leaves, the larvae move to ground level and pupate in the soil, 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 amplifies their destructive effect on food plants.
Scientific Name: Lema trilinea
Other Name(s): Potato Beetle, Potato Bug
Size (Adult; Length): 5mm to 8mm (0.20in to 0.31in)
Colors: black; yellow; red; orange
Descriptors: striped, multicolored, flying, harmful, garden 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.