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Palmetto tortoise beetle larva

Hemisphaerota cyanea


The larva is covered in a straw-like mass called 'frass', aka feces. (see Notes)


spotted on palmetto frond in scrub land sanctuary


Upon hatching, the young larva begins to excrete strands of dry feces that curl up over its back and accumulate to form a dense thatch-like shield. Larvae have an anal fork to hold the fecal shield in place. The fecal shield has been shown to be an effective defense against a predacious larva of Cycloneda sanguinea (L.) (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) and the predacious stink bug, Stiretrus anchorago (Fabricius) (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae). However, the carabid beetle, Calleida viridipennis (Say) (Coleoptera: Carabidae) is able to penetrate the larva's defense by chewing through the shield or by getting underneath it and prying it up

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auntnance123 8 years ago

Much appreciated, Harsha.

Harsha Singh
Harsha Singh 8 years ago

Looks great! Nice spotting auntnance.

auntnance123 8 years ago

Thank you, Argy Bee and Mayra. This has become one of my favorite spottings.

MayraSpringmann 8 years ago


Mark Ridgway
Mark Ridgway 8 years ago

Super IDing aunt. Fascinating spotting.

auntnance123 8 years ago

Truthfully I dismissed these photos as 'just some stuff' on a palm. But in looking for another ID, I happened upon the reference link attached to this spotting. I thought I may have deleted the 'stuff' files, but finally found them. So, Ashley, I had no clue; but have learned not to delete even the most obscure photos. And Gilma and Yuko, the amazing thing is what can be learned from the PN community. Thanks for your comments.

YukoChartraw 8 years ago

Great spotting! Who would even imagine (other than the PN experts) that this is actually a beetle larva!?

AshleyT 8 years ago

How did you even figure out this was an animal??

auntnance123 9 years ago

I thought it was pretty incredible, Mayra; this was the first time I'd ever seen one.

MayraSpringmann 9 years ago

Wow!!! Incredible!!!

Juan DiTrani
Juan DiTrani 9 years ago

wao!, it looks like a birds nest

Sergio Monteiro
Sergio Monteiro 9 years ago

Think about, they go through a great part of their lives covered with poo...

auntnance123 9 years ago
auntnance123 9 years ago

A pretty extreme survival strategy to be sure. At least giant swallowtail caterpillars only 'look' like poop.

Ava T-B
Ava T-B 9 years ago

I ditto lori.tas -- coolest yuckiest thing ever!

KarenL 9 years ago

Seems like a good tactic to avoid getting eaten!

lori.tas 9 years ago

That is possibly the coolest yuckiest thing ever.

textless 9 years ago

Wow - I've never seen anything like it. Great find!

auntnance123 9 years ago

This is by far the strangest thing I've discovered in the scrub--really exciting.

Spotted by

Florida, USA

Spotted on Nov 14, 2011
Submitted on Nov 27, 2011

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