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The Potato Beetle

University of Maryland Extension Service

A few weeks ago, I visited a friend. We were sitting outside, enjoying the weather with a couple local brews while his daughter played nearby. Suddenly, his daughter yelled, “Dad! Come see this!” So we quickly got out of our chairs and hurried over. “Look at this bug,” his daughter demanded, “When I poke it, it curls up!” My friend smiled and said, “That’s a potato bug, sweetheart. You find them under rocks and in the dirt and, you’re right, they do curl up when you poke them.” Cue the sound of a record scratch on this idyllic scene. A potato bug? Surely my friend was confused. I didn’t want to contradict him in front of his child, so when we sat back down I said casually, “You called that a potato bug. I always called it a pill bug. I’ve heard it called a roly-poly…but not a potato bug.” “It’s a potato bug,” my friend retorted. I could see this wasn’t going anywhere, so I decided to drop it and read more about it later. As it turns out, we were both correct.