Friday Fellow: Spotted Tortoise Beetle

by Piter Kehoma Boll

It’s finally time to introduce another beetle, and I decided to go on with a member of the family Chrysomelidae, one of the most diverse and important in the world. The chosen species, Aspidimorpha miliaris, is commonly known as the spotted tortoise beetle.

A spotted tortoise beetle in Taiwan. Photo by 羅忠良.*

Native from the Indomalayan region, the spotted tortoise beetle occurs from western India to Taiwan, the Philippines and Indonesia. It measures 1.5 cm in length and, as usual among tortoise beetles, the elytra (hardened forewings) and the pronotum (the foremost dorsal plate of the thorax) are widened and cover the whole body. These structures are transparent and the elytra also have many black spots. The body seen below this transparent armor varies from white to yellow and orange.

An orange specimen in Nepal. Photo by Sebastian Doak.*

The spotted tortoise beetle calls attention not only because of its beautiful color but also because its larvae feed voraciously on plants of the genus Ipomoea and related genera, which include, among others, the sweet potato. Due to its habitat being near the equator, the spotted tortoise beetle is able to reproduce during the whole year, although its peak in abundance seems to be around June.

A group of larvae eating a leaf of Ipomoea in Taiwan. Photo by 利承拔.*

The eggs hatch about 10 days after being laid by the female and the larvae pass through five instars during a period of 18 to 22 days, after which they molt into a pupa that, about a week later, turns into the adult. The larvae live in groups and have a pale body marked with four black spots on the dorsal side of most segments. There are also some spiny projections running along the margins of the body.

Spotted Tortoise Beetle in Singapore. Photo by Soh Kam Yung.*

Due to the spotted tortoise beetle’s status as a pest in sweet potato plantations, biological forms to control it have been studied and include the use of leaf extracts as pesticides, as well as parasitoid wasps as predators of eggs. On the other hand, the beetle itself could be used as an efficient agent to control the spread of some invasive species of Ipomoea.

This is how nature acts. Your enemy on one side can be your friend on the other.

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More Beetles:

Friday Fellow: Violaceous Long-horned Beetle (on 22 February 2013)

Friday Fellow: Red Flour Beetle (on 06 February 2015)

Friday Fellow: Giraffe Weevil (on 20 May 2016)

Friday Fellow: Hitler’s Beetle (on 17 June 2016)

Friday Fellow: Green Tiger Beetle (on 08 July 2016)

Friday Fellow: Gold-and-Brown Rove Beetle (on 02 September 2016)

Friday Fellow: Sun Beetle (on 28 October 2016)

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Bhuiya BA, Miah MI, Ferdous E (2000) Biology of Cassidocida aspidomorphae Crawford (Hymenoptera: Tetracampidae), an egg parasitoid of tortoise beetles. Bangladesh Journal of Entomology 10(1/2): 23–30.

Bhuyan M, Mahanta JJ, Bhattacharyya PR (2008) Biocontrol potential of tortoise beetle (Aspidomorpha miliaris) (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) on Ipomoea carnea in Assam, India. Biocontrol Science and Technology 18(9): 941–947. doi: 10.1080/09583150802353705

Nakamura K, Abbas I (1987) Preliminary life table of the spotted tortoise beetle Aspidomorpha miliaris (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) in Sumatra. Researches on Population Ecology 29: 229–236.

Oudhia P (2000) Toxic effects of Parthenium leaf extracts on Aspidomorpha miliaris F. and Zonabris pustulata Thunb. Insect Environment 5(4): 168.

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*Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

1 Comment

Filed under Entomology, Friday Fellow, Zoology

One response to “Friday Fellow: Spotted Tortoise Beetle

  1. Interesting little bug – thank you for bringing it to our attention.

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