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This insect with a rough brownish shell showed up on potatoes at a friend's house in Vermont. I've looked around in books and online and can't find anything that's an exact match. Current control strategy is knocking them into a can of soapy water. (My friend hasn't said anything about them making a stink when removing them.)

Update via email:

Yes, I've had a couple fly away. Though they're very slow to get moving (i.e. very easy to get into the soapy water first). They're really stuck to the leaves, so I have to really scrape them off the leaf. You can't see in the pic, but they leave big round holes (size of pencil eraser at their biggest).

enter image description here

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At the risk of being uninformative....it's a beetle, one of the over 400,000 species of them. –  kevinsky Jun 27 '12 at 2:00
    
@kevinsky: You've at least managed to do better than my guess, which was completely in the wrong order... –  bstpierre Jun 27 '12 at 2:19
    
I just wanted to say also that I hadn't seen anything about them needing to be removed particularly (there is one type of tortoise beetle that is considered a pest, but not this one) especially since we don't eat the leaves of potato plants. It depends on how much damage they are doing of course as it doesn't do a plant any good to have it's leaves eaten away! –  standgale Jun 27 '12 at 20:55

1 Answer 1

up vote 6 down vote accepted

It is a Tortoise Beetle (part of Leaf Beetle subfamily), probably Plagiometriona clavata - Common Garden Tortoise Beetle or Clavate Tortoise Beetle.
(The beetles as a group seem to have undergone a number of taxonomic and name changes)

See another excellent picture of one here: http://www.pbase.com/image/28969283

There is some more information about them from the University of Florida here: http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/orn/beetles/Plagiometriona_clavata.htm

Also, anyone interested should google image search "tortoise beetles" because they look amazing :D

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