Living With Tortoise Beetles

Golden Tortoise Beetles

Golden Tortoise Beetles

The Golden Tortoise Beetle, Charidotella sexpunctata feeds on plants in the sweet potato family (Convolvulaceae) including sweet potato and morning glory. To attract them, plant sweet potatoes.  Look for tiny gold spots on the leaves.

The beetles have clear protective extensions of the cuticle. When disturbed, they may fly off or clamp tightly to the leaf. The clear cuticle extensions fit tightly onto the leaf and prevent ants or other predators from prying the beetles from the plants.

The reflective gold is a structural color. The beetles can open and close valves that alter the moisture content of their cuticle. High moisture content configures the cuticle so it reflects the gold color. Unfortunately, once the beetle dies, the gold color is replaced by a red. Look for them on your sweet potatoes and morning glories. Their feeding creates “shot holes” in the leaves. They rarely consume enough of the foliage to cause economic damage or crop loss.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
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