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False potato beetle

A false potato beetle, Leptinotarsa juncta
Patrick Coin
A false potato beetle, Leptinotarsa juncta

The false potato beetle (Leptinotarsa juncta) is a beetle found primarily in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern United States. Its distribution extends to Maine.

Adult beetles emerge from the soil in the late spring or early summer and begin breeding, and a population may go through one to three generations in a summer.

The false potato beetle feeds on solanaceous weeds such as horsenettle, Solanum carolinense. It also feeds on other solanaceous plants, such as species of ground cherry or husk tomato, Physalis spp., and bittersweet, Solanum dulcamara, but no growth and reproduction occurs when feeding on the potato, Solanum tuberosum.

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Rudy Mancke served as naturalist and co-host of South Carolina ETV's <i>NatureScene</i>, which began its long run in 1978. His field trips, broadcast nationwide, earned him a legion of dedicated viewers. Rudy's knowledge of the complex inner-workings of different ecosystems and his great admiration for the natural world make him the perfect guide. In fact, the National Wildlife Federation and the Garden Club of America honored his commitment to resource conservation with special awards. After retiring from SCETV, Rudy went on to become naturalist-in-residence at the University of South Carolina, Columbia. He hosted SC Public Radio's <i>NatureNotes</i> from 1999 until his death in 2023 at age 78.