Epilachna beetles (Epilachna spp.)
The adult beetle is oval in shape, about 6 mm in length and reddish brown in colour with black spots on their backs. They look very similar to the beneficial ladybird beetles (predators), but the body of this pest ladybird beetle is covered with short, light coloured hairs, which give them a non-glossy or matt appearance. The larvae are pale yellow and covered with branched spines.
They feed on the leaves of eggplants by scraping the surface and eating the leaf tissue between the veins. Attacked leaves may be completely stripped to the mid-veins to skeletons. They may also feed on fruits causing small shallow hollows on the fruit surface. High numbers of these beetles can cause considerable damage.
- Hand pick and destroy adults and larvae. This is feasible in small plots.
- Spray neem products. Neem extracts have repellent effects on these beetles. For instance, sprays with an aqueous neem seed extract (10g/l) at 10 days intervals showed repellent effect on Epilachna beetles in India (Ostermann and Dreyer, 1995).