Tortoise Bug - Knowledgebase Question

Tucson, Ar
Question by mrsmikie
October 18, 2007
Sorry - I didn't get to finish my question on the tortoise bug. I sprayed the bug with Sevein but don't know if was the right control. The nursery wasn't able to provide any information on it. And I can't find any information on line. Can you help?

Answer from NGA
October 18, 2007


Most tortoise beetles feed on sweet potato and closely related plants such as morning glory and bindweed. Argus tortoise beetles also infest cabbage, corn, raspberry, strawberry, milkweed, and plantain. Golden tortoise beetles have been found on eggplant.

Damage - Both larvae and adults feed on leaves causing them to be riddled with holes. This type of damage is most threatening to seedlings or newly set plants.

Life History - Tortoise beetles overwinter as adults under bark, in leaf litter, or in other dry, protected places. In spring, beetles emerge and feed on weed hosts until sweet potato plants are available. Female adults deposit clusters of 15 to 30 eggs on the undersides of leaves. Larvae emerge 7 to 10 days later. After feeding for 2-1/2 to 3 weeks, larvae transform into pupae. About a week later, a new generation of beetles emerges. Several generations may occur each year in southern states.

Tortoise beetles and other leaf-feeding insects do not affect plants adversely if growing conditions are satisfactory. Cultural practices such as adequate fertilization, good weed control, and well-timed planting effectively deter excessive tortoise beetle injury. Generally, chemical control is not necessary.

Sevin will certainly do them in, but populations are generally not high enough to warrant control.

Hope this answers all your questions.

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