Subject: Interesting ladybug from Johannesburg
Location: Northern Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
January 29, 2015 5:24 am
Hello, I head the Eco-Schools initiative from HeronBridge College in Johannesburg, South Africa. We have started an initiative at the school called “Wild HeronBridge”. The aim is to compile lists of the creatures that share our space so we often have photos of bugs etc. that we would love to have identified. This is a case in point. It was photographed earlier in January at HeronBridge, which is in the extreme northern parts of Johannesburg, province Gauteng, South Africa. it looks like a Cheilomenes but the colour and patterning are different from the regular red orange variety. We would greatly appreciate it if you could ID it for us so that we can add it to our insect lists.
Signature: HeronBridge College
Dear HeronBridge College,
Do you have a larger file with greater resolution? Are there any views showing the head of the beetle? We are more inclined to speculate that this is a Leaf Beetle in the family Chrysomelidae, but we would like to see a better image prior to researching its identity.
Thanks so much for your email regarding our insect. Unfortunately there was only one picture taken of the bug but here it is with a better resolution. We really appreciate any assistance you can give us!
Thanks for providing a higher resolution image Charlotte. The plant it is on has a distinctive seed pod. Can you provide the name of the plant? That may assist in a proper identification of the Beetle, which we still believe to be a Leaf Beetle.
Thanks again for your perseverance with this identification! I have found out that the plant it is on is and it is interestingly a poisonous plant – Datura Stramonium:
Datura stramonium, known by the common names Jimson weed, Devil’s snare, or datura, is a plant in the Solanaceae (nightshade) family. It is believed to have originated in the Americas, but is now found around the world. Other common names for D. stramonium include thornapple and moon flower, and it has the Spanish name Toloache. Other names for the plant include hell’s bells, devil’s trumpet, devil’s weed, tolguacha, Jamestown weed, stinkweed, locoweed, pricklyburr, and devil’s cucumber.
I hope this helps – especially as it must be quite an amazing beetle to be able to eat a poisonous plant.
Thanks for the well researched plant identification. We did a quick search and did not come up with anything regarding Leaf Beetles, but that information should prove helpful. We wish there was more detail in your beetle image. We did some additional research and there are several similar looking Lady Beetles in the family Coccinellidae in South Africa, including the individual on South African PHotographs, and the ones pictured on BioDiversity Explorer. The image of Cheilomenes lunata on BioDiversity Explorer might be the closest. The Lunate Ladybird Beetle is well represented on iSpot.
Thanks so much – you have been extremely helpful! Having had a look at the pictures I concur with you that the Cheilomenes Lunata comes the closest.
Much appreciated – we can post it on our Wild HeronBridge blog – where we post interesting creatures we find at the school (http://heronbridgecollege.co.za/blog – if you have a moment!)
Thanks for providing a link to your wonderful blog.
Correction: April 25, 2015
Cesar Crash from our sister site Insetologia, provided a comment indicating that this looks like a Potato Ladybird, Epilachna dregei, which is identified on Photographs from South Africa. According to information on iSpot, this species congregates in large aggregations in the winter. According to Biodiversity Explorer: “Lays eggs and feeds on potato and tomato leaves. Larvae feed on the underside of the leaves and adults on the top side. Adults congregate in large numbers and spend the dry season on hilltops.” Most Lady Beetles are predatory, but there are a few species, including the Potato Ladybird, that feed on plants. Since Datura is in the same family as potato and tomato, it makes sense that Charlotte found this individual on Datura.