Please help me identify a new "creature" I found gnawing on my...

Asked July 5, 2013, 10:59 AM EDT

Please help me identify a new "creature" I found gnawing on my tomato plant leaves this morning. At first glance he has the appearance of a hunched-up slug, smooth, shiny, rounded on his back, light beige with some gray spots (almost look like they are under translucent skin) and distinct black markings (a thin stripe down his back, a series of 6 black dots, slightly raised, decreasing in size, in a line down each side, and a black spot on his "back/neck" that looks like a collar), but he has a head, gnawing mouth parts and 6 small legs (3 on each side) near his head. His abdomen resembles a spider's. He is not soft and squishy like a slug, but not a hard shell like a beetle either, There is a soft give to him when you press on his back. He moves slowly, can't fly, just eats tomato leaves as near as I can tell. I told the gentleman on the phone they were 1/2-3/4" long, but when I measured the large one is about 7/16ths and the small one is about 5/16ths inch. He suggested I try salt to see if it was a snail/slug, but that did not affect them. I will attach some pictures - one from the top showing his slug-like appearance (a second smaller one can be seen underneath the leaf with black drops of liquid he excreted) and a couple from the side showing his legs and gnawing apparatus. Although they look quite different, this is the same little pest. What is he and what do I do about them? thanks.
PS - as I watched him all day, I remembered that he resembled ladybug nymphs, although much larger. I wonder if my bug is the infant stage of something. I checked more "chewed" leaves, couldn't find any more bugs, but did find a little hornworm on the same plant - I doubt that is a clue though.

Baltimore County Maryland vegetables colorado potato beetle

1 Response

The insect in the photo looks like the larvae of the colorado potatoe beetle. It can feed on eggplant, tomato, potato and other solanaceous plants. See our Vegetable Profile for information and control