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Does anyone know what this is?
Hey, Simon. I'm the *last* person who should be identifying bugs, and yours is a much better photo, but your critter sort of looks like this little guy, who made the rounds earlier this summer:
Folks seemed to think that dude was either a Japanese Beetle grub or a Junebug grub. But please, others, weigh in!
Correctly identifying those grubs probably depends on where you live. I think your profile said you were local here in the L.A. area. Japanese beetles aren't common on the West Coast at all, but we have other similar looking larvae. If that was found in your compost here in SoCal, I wager they were Fig Eater / Green Fruit Beetle grubs. They are pretty common around here and are often called by other names, including mistakenly called Japanese Beetles. Cotinis Texacana or Cotinis C. mutabilis are what the are classified as. I did a couple of posts about them on my blog awhile back. They aren't destructive in the grub stage, but if you grow backyard fruit, the adult beetles can be a problem.
Gruesome Compost Bugs
Green Fruit Beetles
Both of the above links are to my blog posts with more about the Green Fruit Beetles, including pics, but here is a quick summary of what you would find on those posts:
The adults are around in the late summer and lay their eggs in mulch and compost piles. The grubs start being obvious in compost piles in early Fall through Spring. They will over winter there unless you pick them out, but they won't hurt your compost. Turning the pile doesn't discourage them, they just dig back in. You could pick them out and feed them to ducks or chickens. Before we had chickens, my kids would take them to the local duck pond and the ducks would go nuts for them.
Greetings Leanne and thanks for your input. Common or not, the consensus seems to be the dreaded "Japanese Beetle." Apparently there's been an invasion in California! I know of one farmer, I think it's Winsor Farms, in Central(ish) California who is famous for his unique "Brassicas," but can no longer grow them because they get devoured by the Japanese Beetle. They are alien monsters that seem to wait (trick you that they aren't there) until a few weeks before harvest time and then, Wham!!! Next morning your crop is ruined.
In my case, (I'm pretty much all 4-5 gal pots right now), I was retiring cucumbers and I found about 35 of these freaks in the pot. Originally I didn't know how bad they were, but I have read that they are serious root gluttons. The strange thing is that I had cucumbers in another pot about ten feet away and there wasn't a sign of them there. One fellow wrote me and said, " maybe that's because there were no eggs laid there." Makes sense. However, back to the Brassica thing-All of my Kale, Radishes, & Carrots have been devoured mysteriously without a sign or sight of vandals (and I check everything out at night!!!). One thing I do know about these "aliens" is that they don't like to be above ground. They dig back in as quickly as possible, so the mystery continues...Worst of all, in the case of the Japanese beetle, at this moment there appears to be no remedy - URGH!!!
On a side note, do you or anyone out there know what cases this weird tomato leaf deterioration:Lots of Love to All Homegrowners!!!!
I am really sorry to hear about all your plant losses. Calif. Dept of Ag. did have three reports of Japanese beetle in California in June of 2012. They put out an Pest Detection/Emergency Project report on them. In order to help prevent the spread invasive pest species, please report them to the Cal. Dept of Ag. Here is a link where to report it.
And the damage on your tomato leaves, sometimes called skeletonizing, is consistent with what adult beetles or caterpillars could do.
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