Half-Eaten Husk Tomato Leaves Hide Beetle Larvae

“Gross Beetle Larvae Under the Leaves of Husk Tomato Plant”

Husk Tomato Leaf With Potato Beetle Grubs
Husk Tomato Leaf With Potato Beetle Grubs

Daily inspection of the garden inhabitants is one of the best things you can do to keep your plants healthy.

Look for signs of plants in distress or in need of water. Look for leaves with holes or leaves missing altogether and seek out the pests who were responsible for the damage.

The ground cherry or husk tomato plants are just now starting to flower. The plants are about a foot tall.

The leaves have had tiny holes here and there and the presence of small black beetles was noticed but due to their size they weren’t thought to be a problem. They looked like they wouldn’t eat too much, so they were left alone.

Now that I’m thinking about it, I also remember seeing a potato beetle a few weeks ago. Too bad I didn’t know then what I know now.

The Three-Lined Potato Beetle, Lema trilineata, is a real garden pest. Unfortunately, their name suggests they’d stick to eating potatoes, but that just isn’t true. They seem to have a real taste for any member of the Nightshade Family.

We’re seeing the larvae eat leaves of the husk tomato and the tomatillo.

Black-headed Yellow-Bodied Grubs Eat Husk Tomato Leaves
Black-headed Yellow-Bodied Grubs Eat Husk Tomato Leaves

When they were first spotted, a somewhat skeletonized but mostly gone leaf was turned over to find black-headed yellow grubs.

“Gross! It looks like they have their poop all over them!”

And it turns out that they did… wear their own excrement. Ewww!

Tomatillo plant grubs are the larval stage of the three-lined potato beetle and they are definitely what most people would call gross.

Wearing their own poop…is that supposed to be a predator defense mechanism?

They eat in groups, too. Look right at the edge of an eaten leaf and there you will find the herd.

Potato Beetle Grubs with Excrement on Underside of Husk Tomato Leaves
Potato Beetle Grubs with Excrement on Underside of Husk Tomato Leaves

Saw three badly infected leaves and removed them from the plants. Inspected the back side or underside of many leaves for additional larvae and adults.

Will continue to inspect for yellow eggs laid in clusters.

Saw one tomatillo plant also infected with potato beetle larvae. Manual removal and disposal of only 2 leaves so far. Other small amounts of beetle larvae were wiped off the plant leaves with fingers and crushed. Yeah, it was gross!

Dealing with beetle grubs is just one of the little things you have to put up with when growing organic. We won’t use any nasty chemicals to “get rid” of the beetles or larvae because we don’t know the complete effects of that pollution.

It’s pretty easy to take care of the beetle larvae when they’re seen. Use a glove or a leaf if you have to keep your fingers out of it, and just wipe the little buggers off of there! Use a bucket of soapy water to stay clean or for collecting infested leaves, beetles and all.