The glimmering Dogbane Leaf Beetle may be a dog's best friend or a plant's nemesis, but it is always lovely to look at.
Metallic hues make this beetle stand out from the rest. Its tiny size means it might get overlooked, but in the right light, the shiny elytra captivate observers. Dogbane Leaf Beetles have green heads. The elytra are a copper, gold and emerald color and has a tiny dimpled texture. Even its green legs have a metallic gleam.
Dogbane Leaf Beetles mate, feed and grow on the Dogbane plant. Dogbane plants are also known as Indian Hemp, or American Hemp. This plant's fibrous stem was historically used to make thin cords and ropes, and it still is. Archaeological digs have even found remnants of such cords implying it was used by Native Americans. The plant is also known to have some medicinal uses, though not much since the 1950's. The plant actually produces a toxin, which is poisonous to humans and animals. In fact, dogs (and sheep and other livestock) were kept away from this toxic plant because ingesting its sweet, sticky sap caused death. Dogbane Leaf Beetles are not affected, however and feed on the leaves of the plant.
As a preferred host plant, the beetle also find mates on dogbane. Females lay a couple of fertilized eggs in a pile of their own feces and attach the sticky clump to the underside of a leaf. Once hatched, the Dogbane Leaf Beetle larvae chew their way out of the feces pile and then drop to the base of the plant, burrowing down to feed on the roots. The result of all of this feeding can weaken or kill the Dogbane plant.
Scientific Name: Chrysochus auratus
Other Name(s): Golden Beetle
Size (Adult; Length): 8mm to 11mm (0.31in to 0.43in)
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Antennae: Beetles have a pair of antennae on the head used as sensors.
Head: The head is home to the insect's eyes, antennae, and mandibles (jaws).
Thorax: Holds the three pairs of legs as well as vital internal organs.
Elytron: One of two wing cases on a Beetle that protects its wings (plural: elytra).
Wings: Appendages used for flying and kept under the elytra until needed.
Abdomen: Houses organs related to circulation, reproduction, and excretion.
Legs: Beetles have three pairs of legs located at the thorax, numbering six legs in all.