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Leaf Beetles

7-14-17 dogbane beetle 168

There is a group of 1,500-plus beetles in North America known as “leaf beetles.” They all have an expanded and two-lobed/heart-shaped section of their leg just above the claws. These lobes bear specially modified hairs which help these plant-eating beetles walk on plant stems and smooth leaves. The majority of leaf beetles are specialists, feeding only on a single species of plant or groups of closely related plants. Many leaf beetles are considered pests, including the Colorado Potato Beetle, Spotted Cucumber Beetle, Striped Cucumber Beetle, Spotted Asparagus Beetle and Northern Corn Rootworm Beetle.

 One of the most striking leaf beetles, and one that is not a “pest” is the Dogbane Beetle (Chrysochus auratus), so called because its diet is restricted to the leaves of Dogbane (Apocynum androsaemifolium). Its distinctive iridescent green, copper, green and blue body is hard to miss. (Photo: Dogbane beetle on Dogbane)



5 responses

  1. This beetle also uses Apocynum cannabinum

    July 31, 2017 at 9:12 am

  2. Do Japanese beetles belong to this group? (My very unpracticed eye assumed they were what your post was about, when I first saw the photo. And then I worried that I might be dunking some of these non-pests in my soapy water bath as I go out each day to remove what I believe are Japanese beetles from my raspberries, plum trees, etc., but I guess it’s unlikely that these beautiful Dogbane eaters are on my plants.)

    July 31, 2017 at 9:28 am

    • Same order, different families. You’ll only find dogbane beetles on dogbane!

      July 31, 2017 at 5:42 pm

      • Good. Thanks for the reassurance!

        August 1, 2017 at 9:02 am

  3. What a timely post! I just encountered one of these jeweled beauties yesterday and hadn’t been able to identify it yet. Glad to have the mystery solved so quickly.

    July 31, 2017 at 9:36 am

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