My curry leaf plant has been infested by this uncommon leaf beetle, for the second time. The first time when it happened, I did not recognise this insect or bug, all I know is, the larva is really, really disgusting! I did a search from the web and almost all the info on the web states that curry leaf plant is practically pest-free as most pests do not like the rather strong smell of the leaves! Upon further search from the web, I've found out the name of this pest is Tortoise Beetle.
Excerpt from What's That Bug in reply to a query by someone in Malaysia who found this bug on her curry leaf plant too :
This is the larva of a Leaf Beetle in the family Chrysomelidae, possibly a Tortoise Beetle. Providing the name of the food plant, curry, should make the identification easier. We found a Local Beetles’ Battles page of the Asian Entomology Collection and Studies website, that pictures a Tortoise Beetle, Aspidomorpha deusta, and the quote:
“IN 1994, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia entomologist Prof Mohamed S. Mohamedsaid noticed strange white beetles on curry leaf plants. Careful study revealed that the beetles came from a genus restricted to Sri Lanka where it is represented by one species, Silana farinosa, commonly known as the tortoise beetle.
‘The occurrence of Silana farinosa feeding on curry leaves in Malaysia is probably a very recent introduction. It has never been reported before in the country,’ he says.
‘Aspidomorpha deusta’ is a common tortoise beetle east of Java. This foreign species was found on a beach off Kapar, Selangor. –
‘It’s very unlikely that its presence would have gone unnoticed, for the host plant is also an important crop,’ he explains, adding that the leaves of the plant are an essential ingredient in Malaysian cooking, especially curries.
The taxonomist, who works with UKM’s Centre for Insect Systematics, reckons the creatures might have been feeding on dry curry leaves when they were unwittingly packed into someone’s luggage and brought into Malaysia from Sri Lanka.
‘They are real pests as these popular plants are endangered by them,’ he says, adding that the curry leaf plant had never before been attacked by insects as it emits a powerful smell.
More recently, another species of foreign tortoise beetle was found on our shores.
‘In all my years of studying beetles, which included combing the beaches of Malaysia for tortoise beetles, I have never encountered a specimen belonging to the species collected in March last year,’ he says.
According to Prof Mohamed, Aspidomorpha deusta is common from Java eastwards to Papua New Guinea and Australia.”
We then found photos of larval Silana farinosa on the photomalaysia website, and they appear to match your photos.
This is the Tortoise Beetle
The larva are usually found at the underside of the leaves.
This is only from one stalk of leaves, more than half of my plant has been infested.
They are extremely yucky! Just by looking at them, gave me goose bumps! I have never seen any yucky larva like this before! The only way to get rid of them is by removing them manually, this was the information I got from one of the sites which I read when I was browsing for the information months ago. I've even printed out the article but I lost it somehow. Remove them manually? I shudder just looking at them! So I cover the whole top with a plastic bag and just cut the stem off, since the plant has already been infested rather badly! When the plant was infested previously, I did try to get rid of them by spraying with organic spray and even homemade ones, but without any success at all.
Cut the whole top away
After about a week, new shoots have started to grow. When it happened the first time, I was careful and always on the lookout for this beetle. There was one of two every now and then, but I always managed to get rid of the matured beetle before they started to breed. But then, due to my lack of attention after that, by the time I checked, I was too late! The plant has been infested by these yurky larva again. And my poor plant has got to be 'chopped off' again!
Photo taken this morning, about a week from the above photo.
Look at what I've found under one new leaf this morning!
Have you seen this white beetle before? This is one beetle that you would not want for your garden! Remember, get rid of them before their larva destroy your plants!
Happy Gardening !