Last week I spent a little time digging through the leaf litter in a nearby mesic southern forest. I found quite a few spiders and insects, but one in particular caught my attention. I noticed a number of shiny gold beetles, which I later identified as basswood leaf miners (Baliosus nervosus, Chrysomelidae).
These beetles have larvae that feed primarily on American basswood trees (Tilia americana, Tiliaceae), but they have been found feeding on trees in seven other families (Clark et al. 2004). Larvae bore through leaves, stuffing themselves with plant material until they pupate and subsequently emerge as adults. These are only one of many insects that attack American basswoods, but none of them are considered to be significant pests of healthy trees (Sullivan 1994).
Clark, S.M., D.G. LeDoux, T.N. Seeno, E.G. Riley, A.J. Gilbert and J.M. Sullivan. 2004. Host plants of leaf beetle species occurring in the United States and Canada (Coleoptera: Megalopodidae, Orsodacnidae, Chrysomelidae exclusive of Bruchinae). Coleopterists Society, Special Publication no. 2, 476 pp
Sullivan, Janet. 1994. Tilia americana. In: Fire Effects Information System. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory.