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Clavate Tortoise Beetle

Plagiometriona clavata


A remarkable little tortoise shell leaf beetle that mimics a bird dropping. It even looks wet and sticky, even though it is not. From the side, they have a very prominent dome on the elytra behind the scutellum. They are difficult to dislodge from their leaves. Pictures 2 and 3 show the effect of their feeding on the leaves. The last picture shows the beetle from the underside, an interesting view to say the least. The beetle is about 1 cm in length. Family Chrysomelidae.


Found on the underside of long low leaves close to the ground in a rocky ravine, Chorreadero Park, Chiapa de Corzo, Chiapas. Because the feeding was sketchy and superficial, this might not have been a preferred host plant. I examined hundreds more leaves and did not find another beetle or larva.


The larva is green and very unusual looking with many spiky lateral bristles all along the body. They also have a peculiar "fecal fork" which they use to create a protective shield over their bodies made from shed exuviae and feces. Studies have shown these "shields" in P. clavata have chemicals which repel ants. Like many other members of the subfamily Cassidinae, this species appears to prefer plants of the family Solanaceae. See these references for biological data and pictures of the larvae: http://www.scielo.org.mx/scielo.php?scri... and http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/orn/....

1 Species ID Suggestions

Clavate Tortoise Beetle
Plagiometriona clavata Clavate Tortoise Beetle - Plagiometriona clavata - BugGuide.Net

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LaurenZarate 4 years ago

Thank you dylanjamesjoaquin :)

dylanjamesjoaquin 4 years ago

I have never bred tortoise beetles, but I have always wanted to. Very nice!

LaurenZarate 4 years ago

Thank you Leuba, it looked too gooey to touch! :)

Leuba Ridgway
Leuba Ridgway 4 years ago

Very nice Lauren. A very interesting looking beetle on its own and a perfect bird-poo mimic.

LaurenZarate 4 years ago

Thank you Nacho. Much appreciated! :)

Spotted by

Chiapas, Mexico

Lat: 16.71, Long: -93.02

Spotted on Jan 21, 2015
Submitted on Feb 11, 2015

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