Gardeners no doubt wince (or unleash expletives, perhaps?) at the mention of this insect. The voracious eater of nightshade plants – and notorious potato plant pest – may be hated and reviled, but it has a lookalike that’s just as lovely and arguably less troublesome!
This dapper creature is a False Potato Beetle (Leptinotarsa juncta). While it does eat plants in the nightshade family – which includes familiar plants like potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, and ground cherries – its main host is Carolina Horsenettle. Oh, and it also eats bittersweet. Anything that will eat the spiky, invasive horsenettle or the insidious strangling bittersweet is welcome to dine on them – all you can eat!
This beetle was a delight to behold, with its rounded shape and ability to pair stripes and dots without looking like it was trying too hard. I particularly enjoyed how glossy it looked, with a shiny cognac-colored head. I hope you agree that this dashing beetle is worth an appreciative look, too.
Don’t forget to really look at the tiny beings all around you – they will amaze and inspire.