Plant-Insect Interaction: Basswood leaf mining beetles on an American basswood

Basswood leaf mining beetle (Baliosus nervosus, Chrysomelidae) on an American basswood (Tilia americana, Tiliaceae). Photographed 05/27/2011 near Blissfield Michigan.

A few weeks ago I wrote about some basswood leaf mining beetles (Baliosus nervosus, Chrysomelidae) that I discovered in some forest leaf litter.  They had apparently awoken from overwintering and were just starting to become active.

Yesterday I was out in the same mesic southern forest in southeast Michigan and I came across a young American basswood tree (Tilia americana, Tiliaceae).  I got a bit excited, hoping to find some evidence of these leaf mining beetles.  I was not disappointed:

Basswood leaf mining beetles (Baliosus nervosus, Chrysomelidae) on an American basswood (Tilia americana, Tiliaceae). Photographed 05/28/2011 near Blissfield Michigan.

In the photo above you can see at least four adult beetles and some skeletonized basswood leaves.  In my initial post I pointed out that leaf mining insects have larvae that feed within the leaf tissues, creating “mines” in the leaves (example).  The interesting thing here is that this leaf damage doesn’t seem to be caused by larvae, it’s more consistent with chewing damage caused by adults.

Basswood leaf mining beetle (Baliosus nervosus, Chrysomelidae) on an American basswood (Tilia americana, Tiliaceae). Photographed 05/28/2011 near Blissfield Michigan.

I also found adults that appeared to be in the process of eating:

Basswood leaf mining beetle (Baliosus nervosus, Chrysomelidae) on an American basswood (Tilia americana, Tiliaceae). Photographed 05/29/2011 near Blissfield Michigan.

So in addition to the larvae mining the leaves, the adults appear to eat them as well.  That wasn’t all they were doing, however:

Basswood leaf mining beetles (Baliosus nervosus, Chrysomelidae) on an American basswood (Tilia americana, Tiliaceae). Photographed 05/29/2011 near Blissfield Michigan.

A lot of them were mating, and I imagine the females will soon lay eggs on the leaves.  After hatching, the larvae will inevitably start chewing their way through the foliage.  After getting fat and pupating, they’ll overwinter in the leaf litter on the ground and start it all again next year.

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About Jeremy Sell

Science and nature nerd.
This entry was posted in Botany, Ecology, Entomology, Organism Interactions and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Plant-Insect Interaction: Basswood leaf mining beetles on an American basswood

  1. Pingback: Random Insect: Leaf mining hispine beetle | The Life of Your Time

  2. Larry B says:

    Good pictures and article
    I have used Bayer Systemic insecticide last year with some success and waiting to see how much effect the spring treatment has this year on the 6 Basswood in my yard. At the moment the beetles are mating and eating. The nastyness wasn’t as bad last year as in previous seasons. I hope I used enough to help this season as I see lots of them at the moment
    May 30, 2011

    Like

  3. Pingback: Random Plant: American basswood | The Life of Your Time

  4. Pingback: Random Insect: Goldenrod leaf miner | The Life of Your Time

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