Monday, September 30, 2013

Golden Beetle on Sweet Potato Leaves

It's just about time to harvest the sweet potatoes, and in addition to the gold (sweet potatoes) underground, some gardeners may find flecks of gold on the leaves. Mottled tortoise beetles have been making holes in the leaves of the sweet potato plants for a while now, but they are mostly hidden, on the undersides of the leaves, making them difficult to see.

As the vines are pulled to clear the way for the harvest, the metallic gold of the beetles will become more apparent, glinting in the sun.

The BugGuide website has posted a closeup image of one of these beetles, and North Carolina State University reports, through its IPM section, that leaf damage from these beetles typically isn't severe enough to warrant spraying to control them.

Instead, gardeners can just enjoy the double-dose of gold offered up by the sweet potato bed.

Mottled tortoise beetle on back of a sweet potato leaf, late September.                                PHOTO/Amy Whitney