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Dogbane Leaf Beetle (Chrysochus auratus)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Dogbane Leaf Beetle

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Image Credit: Noah Blades Photography
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Image Credit: Noah Blades Photography
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Image Credit: Tim G. from PA
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Image Credit: Tim G., taken on the Appalachian Trail, PA
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Image Credit: Sheryl G. taken in Coatesville, PA
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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.

Updated: 06/20/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
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 have a 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 finds 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.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Harmful insect icon
Shiny insect icon

Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Coleoptera
        Family: Chrysomelidae
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          Genus: Chrysochus
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            Species: auratus

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Chrysochus auratus
Other Name(s): Golden Beetle
Category: Beetle
Size (Adult; Length): 8mm to 11mm (0.31" to 0.43")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: copper; green; brown
Descriptors: metallic; shiny; copper; emerald; flying; harmful

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 8mm (0.3in) and 11mm (0.4in)
Lo: 8mm
Md: 9.5mm
Hi: 11mm

Territorial Map*

U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Dogbane Leaf Beetle may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Dogbane Leaf Beetle. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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