Monday, February 14, 2011

Beware Of the White Beetle!

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 !


  1. Oh no! So sad that your curry plant is being attack by this beetle. It looks like you have to really prune and keep on eye of it always which is not easy to do. I post the address soon.

  2. Joy, same thing happened to my curry plant and I did the same thing..cut the whole thing off but when they grow back the whole cycle repeat itself. So far Ive cut my plant 3 times!

  3. I didn't visited this other blog...
    so interesting!

  4. Nope not this one. Yeah... horrible! Now I know what to do if I see one. Thanks for sharing and glad to see the plant bounced back ;-) But like p3chandan mentioned here, usually these pests will come back again and again... ;-(

  5. This is really terrible pest! Hope your curry leave will bounce back healthy without the bettle!

  6. Lots of this were seen hanging on our luffa leaves. That was when I was too busy with setting up new irrigation system, forgetting the rest. At the end I had to pull out all the five luffa plants, put them in garbage plastic for the lorryman.

  7. Looks like this is quite serious... we have a similar problem, occasionally...

  8. I have not seen this beetle before, very geli indeed. Now i don't know whether should i continue with my plan to plant a curry leave tree in the garden or not...

  9. good luck getting rid of the pest!

  10. Looks like it is the curry leaf plant that attracted those bugs. It happened to me too during the first few years. Mine is now ok now, after a six year struggle!

  11. Finally! An answer to what the horrible thing attacking my curry leaf plant is. How do u get rid of them? I have pruned my tree numerous times when d infestation gets out of control. But when the leaves grow back, it attacks again and within a few days, the whole tree is infested! I just purchased an organic pest control but it does not seem to be working. Any advice?

    1. Hey, i'm a horticulture student in Singapore. I have also seen this on our curry plant but nothing was done to remove as it was just planted randomly...but I have found a biological solution to this problem, better than using chemicals and manual work. There is a kind of black ants, I don't know what species though, that actually feeds on the larvae of the beetles. The black ants are small and quite aggressive, they pinch your feet with their tiny mandibles. After some time the larvae are all gone just like that.

  12. Hello Anonymous,
    There's little you can do with organic pest control, they won't work on the beetle. After I pruned the tree, when the new leaves and young shoots started to grow, check for the beetle, especially under the leaves. Get rid of them manually by hand and destroy them. That's what I did. I checked every two to three days for signs of this beetle. I do found one or two occasionally, but by checking the leaves frequently, you can at least stop it from spreading. And watch out for their larvae, it looks like round brown shape initially, destroy that too! Hope this helps. Good luck!

  13. hi all, I am a lecturer at UPM, Serdang. I am interested in studying this beetle (Silana farinosa) to learn more about its ecology and probable methods of controlling it. I have a population of it attacking the curry plants in my own garden (ha!), but it would be great if I can get more live collections from other populations.

    So if you have some, please contact me at


  14. I also have goosebumps looking at the photo of the larvae. I understand the headaches that you have dealing with this stubborn pests. Glad that you share this and help us to keep a look out for it in our garden.

  15. Hi guys. I had my fair share of whittish infestations too! Just that the larvaes white 'flurry' all over and there seemed to be ants feeding on the 'nectars' emitted from these stuffs. Are these the same species?

  16. Hi Everyone,
    I have similar problem. I finally off root my tangerine tree after so many attempts to save it. But it got worse it infected mango tree. So hang fly paper 2 days ago. So far it trap one or two. Besides that I am plucking leaves off the tree. Does any one has any other natural way solve the issue?

  17. Finally I know what is this! The pest has been attacking my plant over and over again after I cut it off.

  18. Thanks for the confirmation. I had the same problem. I chopped off the crown of my curry tree 3 times already and catch these beetles and larvae everyday 2 times a day. Now I can see new non infested leaves sprouting. Is the red ladybug a friend or a foe?? I saw them too.