|Golden Tortoise Beetle on a sad-looking leaf|
The other day I saw this beautiful insect on a chilli leaf. I've only seen the Golden Tortoise beetle twice in as many years. So you can imagine my excitement at the sight of this beautiful creature again. Please click on the pictures!
Tortoise beetles have bodies that are somewhat shell-like in appearance. Body margins extend in a roof-like manner over much of the head and legs. Most species are 5-8mm long.
|Leaf damage on the Bush Morning Glory|
I had noticed this leaf a few days earlier and had seen some spiny instars of what I presumed to be of the Tussock moth. All that googling did not help as I didn't come across a match.
But after I saw the newly-emerged beetle, it was easy to find more details. When the larvae shed their skin, it remains attached to a prong-like process at the end of the abdomen. Moults are stacked on moults and are carried around held over the insect's back like a parasol. When disturbed, the larva waves the attachment...good enough to detract its predators!
|More of them, and a newly emerged beetle|
|Motionless on the underside of the leaf|
|Here's another. Tiny and with a different coloration.|
|This one has become active...flying from leaf to leaf!|
Host plants are the sweet potato and closely related plants such as the morning glory and bindweed.
|Leave me alone!!|
|Looks like this one didn't make it.|
I had helped myself to a small branch of this plant from the edge of a rice field about three years ago. Little did I know then that apart from the pretty blooms there would be a much more fascinating revelation in store for me.