Hideous Alien Gooberbugs on my Brugs

hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)June 24, 2012

Hi all,

I'm usually pretty good at bug ID, but this one is really gross so I thought I'd share it with you.

I found these guys eating my brugmansia. They appear to begin life as tiny yellow eggs laid on the underside of leaves, about 20 in a group. Then these nasty little grub thingies with black heads emerge (see photo).

This is the creepy part: they appear to excrete a disgusting substance that looks like bubbled up baby poop all over their bodies. Some of them have huge bubbled up bodies, so that you can't see a head. I thought they had been parasitized, then I thought they had been BT-ized, except I never sprayed the brugmansia with BT. Then I thought maybe the brug had poisoned them and they were blowing up. I put them under the microscope ICK!!! I could see their pulsing lice-like bodies underneath the baby poop goobers. One had a fat yellow head, but all of the rest have small black heads. Two species? One "Queen"??? Ack.

Scale:

Close up of gooberbugs hatching:

Gooberbug close-up:

Does anyone know what manner of pest this is? If this is a camouflage or method that they employ to avoid being someone's lunch, it certainly looks effective.

Renee

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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Reminds me of various insects called "slugs" in larval stage. They cover themselves with excrement for protection. Examples are pear slugs and rose slugs.

Direct hits of insecticidal soap could work. But search-and-destroy would be a fail-safe method.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 8:21PM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

I did a search-and-destroy, pulling off every leaf I could find with gooberpoop covered bugs or eggs. I believe I have some sort of lema spp three-lined potato beetle. The larvae pile their poop on their backs. This is one insect I will never, ever taste. Bleccch.

Here is a link that might be useful: lema spp bugs

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 9:14PM
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susi_so_calif(USDA10/Sunset24)

These are the larval and egg stages of leaf hoppers. Nasty things, and they seem to love plants in the Solanaceae family. Mine always get them at this time of year. I keep them under control (somewhat) by removing every leaf that has them on the undersides and stomping them flatter than flat.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 9:40PM
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susi_so_calif(USDA10/Sunset24)

OOPS!! I meant that these are the larval and egg stages of those potato beetles. The leaf hoppers look different, but also love the brugs. Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 9:42PM
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eloise_ca

Renee, get rid of them quickly! A couple of years ago, they attacked one of my brugs and then moved to another. They reproduce continuously and quickly, and can devour the plant in no time. I sprayed with water, safe soap and squashing what I could, and eventually they disappeared.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 9:41AM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

I got three more adults today and two leaves with eggs. No new gooberpoop larvae. If I see too many more, I can cut this brug to the ground. It's about due for a refreshing.
Renee

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 8:16PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Please post images of the adults. The larvae are quite different than potato beetles.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 10:25PM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

Here you are, Jean!
Adult Lema daturaphila

Eggs:

    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 3:37PM
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