Tortoise beetles (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae: Cassidini) have a rather unique and interesting appearance and they always catch my attention. Some resemble lady beetles and some look more metallic, but what’s really interesting about them is that most species have translucent margins on the major sclerites of their bodies.
Like other leaf beetles these insects feed on plants. Both larvae and adults of the genus shown here (Deloyala) feed exclusively on plants in the morning glory family. This individual was gorging itself on the tissues of a hedge false bindweed (Calystegia sepium, Convolvulaceae) that was growing up a fence in my backyard.
A couple of months ago when string trimming along my fence, I made the decision to skip over this twining morning glory vine and see what would happen if I let it grow. If I had killed this plant then, it wouldn’t be around today to attract this awesome beetle. I was so excited when I found this insect that I ran into my house for my camera, stepped on a thorn, and continued limping on my way in spite of the pain.
Whenever I encounter an interesting new plant in my yard my instinct isn’t to immediately regard it as a weed and kill it, it’s to learn more about it. I’ve made a fair number of personal discoveries in this manner, not only about the plants in question but also about the insects they attract. This thrill of discovery has proven much more rewarding than maintaining a perfectly-manicured lawn.