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Subjects Leaf Beetles : Nature Closeups

Leaf-mining Leaf Beetle

January 28th, 2012 - 10:57 AM | Filed under Featured Photos | 1 Comment

8mm long | July 12, 2011 | Victorio Siqueroli Park, Uberlandia, Minas Gerais, Brazil

This attractive little beetle was resting when I found it. Looking at it here, it almost appears to be nature’s idea of a gaudy holiday light display. Just imagine each of those elytral punctures as a tiny LED, and then imagine them programmed so that the dorsal patterns shift down the eltytra, one puncture at a time. Jokes aside, it actually blends in pretty well with the browning foliage.

This is a leaf-mining leaf beetle, so called because the larvae feed between the surfaces of leaves, creating mines. Adults feed on foliage, and it may be responsible for some of the leaf damage visible here, though I didn’t actually see it eating.

Frontal view

The larvae are flattened, making it easier to move within their mines. Adults seem to share this trait.

Dorsolateral view

Leaf Beetles and Damaged Leaves

February 16th, 2011 - 5:26 PM | Filed under Featured Photos | No comments

2mm | January 17, 2011 | Cahuita National Park, Limon Province, Costa Rica

This is almost but not quite the shot I was going for. When I first saw this little beetle it was oriented toward the freshly eaten patch. With the frass strewn around, you can just imagine it chewing away at the surface in a circular pattern. I wasn’t quite stealthy enough in my approach however, and I spooked it into moving away.

Below is a similar beetle, perhaps a different sex of the same species. Note the difference between the freshly eaten patch above and the older ones below.

Showing older leaf damage

Reddish Tortoise Beetles

February 13th, 2011 - 11:19 AM | Filed under Featured Photos | 5 Comments

4mm | January 17, 2011 | Cahuita National Park, Limon Province, Costa Rica

There were quite a few of these reddish tortoise beetles feeding on this banana plant.

Banana plant

They feed on the large leaves, scarring them in a distinctive way.

Sign from feeding

Here you can see one munching its way forward, carefully feeding only between the leaf veins.

Machinelike feeding precision

Did you notice the little hitchhiker above? Looks like some sort of parasitic wasp to me. I suspect this is probably a female beetle, and the wasp is just hanging out until she lays eggs, which the wasp will then parasitize. Here’s a closer look.

Parasitic wasp closeup

They’d often fly away from me once I started taking pictures, but it was no trouble to find another one.

Another individual

I like their furry little feet.


Update: Marshall’s 500 Insects has a photo of a similar looking tortoise beetle, identified as a Spaethiella species.

500 Insects:
A Visual Reference

by Stephen A. Marshall

Mottled Tortoise Beetle

October 24th, 2010 - 3:07 PM | Filed under Featured Photos | 2 Comments

October 10, 2010 | Twelvestones, Roswell, GA, USA

A few weeks ago I found this tortoise beetle, Deloyala guttata, on the underside of a sycamore leaf in a nearby park. Most of the time you only see tortoise beetles safely tucked away inside their “shell” (hence their name). I waited for this one to start moving around so I could get this shot.

Target Tortoise Beetle

October 19th, 2010 - 7:23 PM | Filed under Featured Photos | 2 Comments

January 28, 2010 | Caraça Natural Park, Minas Gerais, Brazil

I’ve seen variations on this pattern for tortoise beetles throughout Central and South America. I often see the species referred to as target tortoise beetles, though a quick google search seems to confirm my suspicion that that common name applies to many different species across several genera.

Pink and Yellow Flea Beetle

August 30th, 2010 - 8:52 AM | Filed under Featured Photos | No comments

January 26, 2010 | Caraça Natural Park, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Now there’s some colors you don’t see on a beetle very often. Warning colors perhaps?

Leaf Beetle Feeding Behavior

August 7th, 2010 - 9:36 AM | Filed under Featured Photos | No comments

January 26, 2010 | Caraça Natural Park, Minas Gerais, Brazil

This leaf beetle has created an interesting little scene.

There’s the leaf damage caused by feeding. The spots appear to be changing color as they age. I assume the green one to the top right of the beetle is the freshest. The light colored ones near the top must be the oldest.

There’s also some frass spread around.

Looking at this, I wonder if the feeding behavior isn’t offering some measure of camouflage. From a distance, the beetle appears to be just another damaged spot on the leaf.

I realize this isn’t a great photo. No matter what I tried, I just couldn’t avoid the sheen on the leaf.