False potato beetle, menace to eggplant

While harvesting eggplant, I noticed white, shiny bugs on several of the leaves. The leaves were riddled with holes or leaves were partially eaten. I discovered a white bug with black dots down each side. The bug is a false potato beetle larva (Leptinotarsa juncta).  The false potato beetle larva, which is about ¼ inch long, is similar to the Colorado potato beetle. You can tell the larva apart by their color (Colorado potato beetle larva is reddish-orange while the false potato beetle is white) and by the dots down their sides (Colorado potato beetle larva has two rows on each side while the false potato beetle larva has one row of dots on each side).

The false potato beetle usually eats leaves of weeds. The bug must have gotten desperate in my (almost) weed-free garden as it attacked my eggplants.

Management of false potato beetle

The female false potato beetle lays eggs on the underside of plant leaves. In less than 10 days, the eggs hatch and larva dine on the leaves. The larva eventually drops to the soil where it pupates for about two weeks. Depending on the weather and time of year, this lifecycle process may repeat several times.
In searching for organic methods of getting rid of false potato beetle, I found cutting off the leaves with eggs, or picking off the beetle or its larva was the best method. I used garden clippers to cut off the part of the leaf on which the bugs were dining and let the leaf fall into a container of soapy water. I have not found eggs on the leaves. A friend told me that birds are also good at getting rid of this pesky bug. If you prefer to go the chemical route, some success is found using insecticides.
Watch for the adult false potato beetle, which is pictured above. This image comes from Jessica Lawrence, Spedona at Wikimedia Commons.