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Reddish Potato Beetle (Leptinotarsa rubinigosa)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Reddish Potato Beetle

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Image Credit: Royce C. taken at the WCCER near Prescott, AZ
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The tomato-colored Reddish Potato Beetle is a Sonoran Desert native, standing out in gardens and chapparal.

Updated: 07/09/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
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.

General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
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Garden pest insect icon
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Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Coleoptera
        Family: Chrysolmelidae
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          Genus: Leptinotarsa
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            Species: rubinigosa
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Leptinotarsa rubinigosa
Other Name(s): Tomato-colored Leaf Beetle
Category: Beetle
Size (Adult; Length): 8mm to 11mm (0.31" to 0.43")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: red, black
Descriptors: round, flying, destructive, pest, garden pest, crop pest

Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 8mm (0.3in) and 11mm (0.4in)
Lo: 8mm
Md: 9.5mm
Hi: 11mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Reddish Potato Beetle may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Reddish Potato Beetle. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.


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