Dogbane Leaf Beetle
Common Name: Dogbane Leaf Beetle.
Scientific Name: Chrysochus Auratus.
What to look for? Small jade and coppery-gold, metallic-like insect. Adult Dogbane Leaf Beetles are distinctly colored. Their head and thorax are bright, iridescent jade or blue-green. Their elytra or wing casing has a coppery-gold shimmer. They have long, 12-jointed, threadlike, bluish-black antennae that are located between the eyes and frontal ridge. Their mandibles are blunt and built for an herbivorous diet. Their legs are a bluish-black. The beetle’s incandescence is caused by light reflecting off of tiny, tilted plates that overlay its pigment layer with the colors changing depending upon the angle of the observer. Larvae have a white body and brown head.
Where can they be found at Carillon Stonegate Pond? For only a month or so during the summer, the Dogbane Leaf Beetle may be found on some of the Hemp Dogbane plants that grow around Carillon Stonegate Pond.
How big are they? The Dogbane Leaf Beetle is less than one-half (1/2) of one inch in length.
What are their flight patterns? As fliers, Dogbane Leaf Beetle have limited dispersal capabilities and will fly only within a patch of their host dogbane plants. They are not known for their distance flying.
How else do they behave? Dogbane Leaf Beetles primary activity is mating, and they use chemical signaling systems. To deter herbivores, dogbane plants expel a milky latex that dries and sticks to mouthparts of other insects. Dogbane beetles feed on the low-latex tissue of the distal part of leaves. After feeding and accumulating latex on mouthparts, dogbane beetles place their mouthparts on the leaf and walk backward in order to rub the latex off. Dogbane Leaf Beetles use their neon coloration to send a "don't mess with me" message to predators, which is known as "aposematic coloration."
What’s for dinner? The Dogbane Leaf Beetle feeds and lives mainly on dogbane plants. Dogbane Leaf Beetle larvae feed on the roots of host plants.
Where do they take up residence? The Dogbane Leaf Beetle is found across the U.S., east of the Rockies except for several Gulf coast states. They reside in any habitat that supports dogbane plants such as Hemp Dogbane around Carillon Stonegate Pond.
When and where do they breed and nest? The promiscuous Dogbane Leaf Beetles mate as many as 50 times during their six-to-eight-week flight period. Males initiate the courtship, and they stick around, piggyback on the females after mating, in an attempt to deter other males and to ensure that the female uses his sperm to fertilize her eggs. Eggs are laid in protective capsules on host plant leaves or on the ground nearby. First instar larvae hatch from eggs in midsummer and burrow into the soil where they feed externally on host plant roots. Larvae pupate in a chamber in the soil, where they remain until their bodies harden enough to burrow to the surface in early summer. Adults mate and lay eggs throughout the rest of the summer after emergence. There is a single generation per year.
Where do they migrate? No. Larvae overwinter until they pupate into adult form in summer.
What is their conservation status? There is no concern.
Do they make any interesting sounds? No.
Interesting Facts About the Dogbane Leaf Beetle:
When adults emerge in early summer, they will have only a 6-to-8-week lifespan.
The species ‘auratus’ comes from the Latin ‘aureus’, which means “decorated with gold.”
For more information on the Dogbane Leaf Beetle and sources of information used in this blog (these are the several of the sources that I am using to learn as I blog), please visit The University of Michigan Animal Diversity Web, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Field Station – The Bug Lady, and The Ohio State University Buckeye Yard and Garden Online (BYGL).
The Carillon at Stonegate community is very fortunate to have a variety of wetland, forest and prairie environments conducive to a variety of birds and other wildlife, insects and plants. Our community and the Kane County Forest Preserve do an exceptional job in maintaining this natural environment – both for the benefit of the birds and wildlife and for our residents to enjoy.
Take a hike and see what you can find – and identify!