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Golden Tortoise Beetle (Charidotella sexpunctata)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Golden Tortoise Beetle

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The lustrous Golden Tortoise Beetle gnaws on some garden favorites, but its unusual color often affords it some latitude in the backyard.

Updated: 01/04/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Few insects boast a truly gold-colored body. The Golden Tortoise Beetle is even more remarkable because it can actually change its coloring at will thanks to microscopic cavities in its cuticle that house pigmentation. The beetle's metallic sheen can be dulled, and that lovely gold can become brown. Upon death, the metallic glimmer fades. Like a tortoise, the body of the beetle is humped, or rounded, as if the wing coverings were actually a shell. The bottom edges of the beetle's eltyra are transparent, like glass.

The shiny, metallic Golden Tortoise Beetle is one of many Tortoise Beetles that feed on popular garden vines. Morning glory, sweet potato vines, bindweed and other plants in the Convulvulaceae family. The adults and their larvae chew on leaves and flowers, giving the plants a less-than-perfect appearance. The amount of damage is mild though, and it rarely causes the plant to die. Many gardeners keep the beetles around just to look at them.

Eggs are laid in the spring. Larvae hatch and immediately begin eating the foliage of the plant they are on. They are round like adults, but are usually a pale greenish color and have a fringe bordering their entire body. They will molt a few times before taking on their adult form. Larvae tend to drag their old 'skins' at their rear until they finally pupate on a leaf. The adults feed in the autumn and overwinter.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Garden pest insect icon
Pest insect icon
Rounded insect body icon
Shiny insect icon

Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Coleoptera
        Family: Chrysomelidae
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          Genus: Charidotella
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            Species: sexpunctata

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Charidotella sexpunctata
Other Name(s): Goldbug
Category: Beetle
Size (Adult; Length): 5mm to 8mm (0.19" to 0.31")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: gold; green; black; white; brown
Descriptors: metallic; shiny; turtle; round; flying; gold; shell; garden pest

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 5mm (0.2in) and 8mm (0.3in)
Lo: 5mm
Md: 6.5mm
Hi: 8mm

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 Golden Tortoise 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 Golden Tortoise Beetle. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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