Late last night I noticed that my morning glory leaves had several round holes in them. A quick look revealed no insects, leaving me scratching my head - but it was late and I was too tired to investigate further.
This morning I decided to do a little investigating and discovered a golden beetle -shaped like a stink bug only much smaller - on the underside of a leaf. Glittering in the morning sun, he actually looked metallic. For a moment there, he had me wondering if I was in Eureka and being bombarded by some alien species.
After the second cup of coffee, I shook the notion of alien invasions and went to work to discover exactly what this tiny creature was. It seems, that it a a golden tortoise beetle (Charidotella sexpunctata) that feeds on members of the Convolvulaceae family which includes morning glories, moon flowers, cardinal climbers and sweet potatoes. Not surprisingly this insect is often referred to as a "gold bug" and ranges from Florida north to Maine and west to about Texas and Iowa.
According to the University of Florida Extension, damage is usually mild and does not typically require intervention. I'm not so sure I agree. Morning glory leaves that look like Swiss cheese aren't exactly my idea of beauty.
For now, I will hand pick them and monitor damage closely - but if that doesn't do the trick I may need to resort to more proactive measures.
Pyrethrin, a natural botanical insecticide made from the Chrysanthemum plant, is reportedly effective in controlling the golden tortoise beetle, as well as a number of other offending insects - including the Colorado Potato Beetle.
Gurney's Seed offers an insect spray called Pyola that is made from Pyrethrin and Canola Oil. I'm thinking maybe its time to order a bottle.
Until Next Time . . . HAPPY GARDENING!
Note: Pyrethrin may pose a threat to some dogs and may cause death in cats. Always keep pesticides - even natural ones - out of the reach of children and pets and observe all safety precautions on the label.