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Leaf Beetle Larva with Fecal Shield

Podontia affinis

Description:

My daughter who first discovered these larvae called them "Shitterpillars". 1cm long yellow coloured larva covered in it's own excrement. Found eating the leaves of a "Kedondong" ( Spondias dulcis) tree. On the 5th picture uploaded: Possible adult form of the larva in the form of a yellow+black spotted, also 1cm long, beetle. The beetles were also found in abundance on the tree. 3rd photo is the excrement found all over the leaves. 4th photo is the actual pupa with the excrement cleaned off. Pretty! Function of covering oneself with shit? Self defense? Camouflage? protection from the sun? How do they shit backwards and upwards onto their back?

Habitat:

"Kedondong" ( Spondias dulcis) tree. tropical climate Malaysia

Notes:

Shitterpillars!

No species ID suggestions

19 Comments

Great spotting Fakawi Tribe,congrats on the well deserved SOTW and thanks for sharing

FakawiTribe
FakawiTribe a year ago

Wooohooo! Thank you, thank you!
I have learned so much from our little discussion here!
Cheers y'all!

Christine Y.
Christine Y. a year ago

Congratulations Fakawi Tribe!

armadeus.4
armadeus.4 a year ago

Congratulations Fakawi Tribe!!! This is an awesome Spotting of the Week. Great images, great info, great "term of endearment" :D, just great spotting! Thank you for sharing :)

DanielePralong
DanielePralong a year ago

"Shitterpillar" is a winner ;-) Congratulations Fakawi Tribe, this most interesting spotting documented with a great description and multiple informative images has been voted Spotting of the Week:

"How do you protect yourself from predators when you're a vulnerable leaf beetle larva that can't fly off? Fecal shield! Several subfamilies of leaf beetles (Chrysomelidae) have larvae that can recycle their frass (excrement of insect larvae) and exuviae (cast skins) into defense structures. These can be worn directly on the body, as seen here for this Podontia affinis larva. In other subfamilies, they can take spectacular shapes such as top hat or umbrella. Fecal shields acts as physical barriers as well as a chemical ones, with repelling compounds incorporated from the plant diet ingested by the larva. Fecal shields may also protect the larva against dehydration. Podontia affinis is distributed from Indonesia to China and feeds as a larva on the foliage of Spondias dulcis, a tropical tree with edible fruit.
For more information: https://buff.ly/2ovxvfS
With special thanks to Christine Young and Emilie Chich for identification and discussion".


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FakawiTribe
FakawiTribe a year ago

Hi Hema! No I didnt observe any pupae. The tree was teeming with the leaf-eating larvae and adult beetles.

Hema
Hema a year ago

Hello Fakawi tribe.Does the pupa attach itself?My obs
https://www.projectnoah.org/spottings/23...

FakawiTribe
FakawiTribe a year ago

Thanks guys for helping me ID this larva! Thanks Ashley for the nomination! Shitterpillars rule!

Zlatan Celebic
Zlatan Celebic a year ago

Great spotting! I love the expression "Shitterpillars". Great one!

AshleyT
AshleyT a year ago

Your spotting has been nominated for the Spotting of the Week. The winner will be chosen by the Project Noah Rangers based on a combination of factors including: uniqueness of the shot, status of the organism (for example, rare or endangered), quality of the information provided in the habitat and description sections. There is a subjective element, of course; the spotting with the highest number of Ranger votes is chosen. Congratulations on being nominated!

Christine Y.
Christine Y. a year ago

Those are larvae in photos 1,2, and 4. The head capsules and legs are clear in the photos, which would help distinguish them from pupae. Is photo 3 just of the feces...did you look in it? There could possibly be a pupa hiding underneath.

EmilieChich
EmilieChich a year ago

You're welcome, FakawiTribe.
The pupa is the stage after larva and before adult, but these yellow guys are still larvae, not pupae. A pupa does not eat anymore, and does not walk either.

FakawiTribe
FakawiTribe a year ago

Looks like you've nailed it, EmilieChich! This is the exact beetle!
Thanks!
By the way, shouldnt the poop blanketed bugs be called pupa? One stage after larval stage and one before adult form?

EmilieChich
EmilieChich a year ago

Take a look at this: Podontia affinis, from Thailand.
//www.researchgate.net/figure/Larva-of-Podontia-affinis-feeding-on-leaf-of-Spondias-mombin-L-Anacardiaceae-at_fig3_307477105

FakawiTribe
FakawiTribe a year ago

Thank you so much Christine!

Christine Y.
Christine Y. a year ago

It's a Chrysomelid (leaf beetle). But, there are MANY that create fecal shields. I'm not sure of a specific ID, but it could be Blepharida sp.

FakawiTribe
FakawiTribe a year ago

Fecal Shield! Exciting stuff, @Christine Y! Thanks for the info. Any idea what kind of beetle that is?

Christine Y.
Christine Y. a year ago

This is a beetle larva with a fecal shield. The fecal shield is for protection from predation.

maplemoth662
maplemoth662 a year ago

A very interesting Description:....Photos No. 1, 2, and 4, are beautiful photos....

Johor, Malaysia

Lat: 1.97, Long: 102.99

Spotted on Feb 21, 2018
Submitted on Feb 21, 2018

Reference

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