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Golden Tortoise Beetle Larvae Feeding

8-18-17 golden tortoise beetle larva 049A2063

When it comes to ingenuity, the Golden Tortoise Beetle (Charidotella sexpunctata) larva has all others beat! Instead of discarding its feces, it collects them and uses them as a means of chemical protection. Golden Tortoise Beetle larvae have a “fecal fork” on their last abdominal segment which they hold over their body. They also possess a muscular, telescopic anus which they can manipulate in such a manner as to deposit their feces onto their fecal fork. Bits of shed exoskeleton combined with days of feces accumulate on this fork and create an effective fecal shield. Golden Tortoise Beetle feces contain alkaloids from the plants that they’ve eaten (Bindweed and other plants in the family Convolvulaceae) and consequently the shield wards off predators. (Photo:  Golden Tortoise Beetle larva with fecal shield; inset – adult Golden Tortoise Beetle)


13 responses

  1. Sue Wetmore

    Well that strategy certainly would deter
    any attack! Nature rocks!!!

    August 17, 2017 at 8:24 am

  2. Mary,I’m fascinated with nature’s diverse strategies and expressions no matter where they are found, but I find myself curious as to whether the less familiar species you describe occur in my bioregion. Would you consider including information about species range in your posts?

    August 17, 2017 at 9:21 am

    • Hi Bruce,
      In general the species I write about, both plants and animals, are found in the Northeast. If they are only found in northern New England I usually say so. It would take too many words to to. Destine their exact range outside of New England, I’m afraid hope this helps a bit.

      August 17, 2017 at 9:52 am

  3. Good grief. Yet another wonder to boggle my mind! You are amazing, Mary. Thank you (again and again)!

    August 17, 2017 at 9:28 am

  4. Ruth Sylvester

    Those horrible orange beetles that devastate lilies — their larvae do roughly the same thing. (I don’t know anything of the chemical content.) Interesting that the adults, like the adult pictured here, are also orange/red.

    August 17, 2017 at 9:39 am

  5. Molly Hale

    Now that beats all! So cool. Thanks for sharing with us!

    August 17, 2017 at 9:43 am

  6. Viola

    Holy Maloney!!!

    August 17, 2017 at 11:34 am

  7. Alice Pratt

    Interesting…this post didn’t come here till 3:52pm. Great for the beetle, to have this ability, but I’m really glad that not all insects, mammals or humans use that ability. 🙈🙊💩🙄🤐😮

    August 17, 2017 at 4:23 pm

  8. Jean Harrison

    Now I’ve heard everything. Are you sure you didn’t make this all up?

    August 18, 2017 at 1:55 am

  9. Kathryn

    Yet another amazing story from Naturally Curious!

    August 18, 2017 at 11:12 am

  10. Robin Snyder-Drummond

    Hi Mary, Thanks for your posts, again. I didn’t get the list of frozen meats, by the way. You can text it to me at

    617-435-0693. Or try this e-mail again.

    We’ll be in touch.

    Best wishes, Robin


    August 20, 2017 at 4:34 pm

  11. Cliff Fairweather

    I hadn’t noticed the fringe of what look like urticating hairs around the edge of the larvae before. I’m wondering if these are functional or if they mimic slug caterpillars.

    August 22, 2017 at 12:29 pm

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