Three Lined Potato Beetle (Lema trilinea)
Detailing the identifying qualities of the Three Lined Potato Beetle, including physical features and territorial reach.
Updated: 2/7/2014; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
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.