What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

I found a very interesting bug on my sunflowers, it resembles a lady bug in size and shape, but the body, when I found it, was a bright gold, but the wings are a translucent opalescent color. It caught my eye because I thought it was a shiny gold bead stuck to the leaf. When I put the bug in a jar, its color changed to a ladybug red, but without the black dots. I would send a picture, but not able to get one scanned. I live in Lincoln, Nebraska, and know a ladybug when I see it, but I have never seen a gold ladybug, or a gold ANY bug.
Dear Joanni,
I love when someone writes in about a new insect to add to our list. You have found a Tortoise Beetle, also known as a Gold Bug, probably Coptocycla aurichalcea var. bicolor, also known as Metriona bicolor. Lutz quotes Harris as saying “When living it has the power of changing its hues, at one time appearing only of a dull yellow color, and at other times shining with the splendor of polished brass or gold, tinged sometimes also with variable tints of pearl. The wing-covers, the parts wihch exhibit a change of color, are lined beneath with an orange colored paint, which seems to be filled with little vessels; and these are probably the source of the changeable brilliancy of the insect.” Lutz also writes that the “larva are called peddlers” because they carry their cast off skins after molting, appearing like a bit of mud or bird dropping. They eat sweet potato and Convolvulaceae, members of the morning glory family.

Tortoise Beetle (from our archives)

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
Location: Lincoln, Nebraska

30 Responses to gold ladybug? or Tortoise Beetle

  1. Nikole says:

    I found one of these gold bugs in my daughters hair today, April 23, 2013, and had no idea what it was until I read these posts about it. I noticed that it is written in Lincoln, Nebraska which is really cool because I am in Longview, Washington and never seen anything like it.

  2. Steve Poyiatzi says:

    I found this Gold bug stuck to my door. It looked like a miniature lady bug. I got nervous about germs so I flicked it off my hand. Maybe I should have kept it. I live in Drayton, Ontario, which is no where hear Nebraska. any comments

  3. Ken says:

    We live in NB and we have seen 3 gold lady bugs here this month.

  4. Trudy Conroy says:

    We just found one on a morning glory in Newport, RI ……very pretty but does it eat the leaves? On the leaf where we found it are many holes.

  5. Bec says:

    Have been seeing these on my sweet potato vines in NY for many years

  6. Pam says:

    My husband was working on the river in SC and found one on his leg.

  7. D. FORE says:

    I also, found a tiny gold bug on my sweet potato vine last week. I took the leaf it was on and place it inside a glass jar with air holes punched in the lid. The leaf had a small eaten-out hole where the bug was (obviously made by the gold bug )
    Today after checking the bug and the wilting leaf with many more holes now, I placed a fresh leaf in the jar and immediately the bug began to eat on this new leaf. The bug is still a beautiful “golden”.color I feel so bad to keep it confined OR to release it to devour other plants. What do I do ? My camera doesn’t recognize the color GOLD, It just looks black in the picture. This is the 1st. gold bug I have seen since I was a little girl, many years ago. I placed it innocently inside my pocket to show my Mother—( and I’m sure you know the rest of that story !) LOL

  8. Lillie Henson says:

    I live in AR. and found one of them in my grand daughters bedroom. I did not know that there were any that color.

  9. thomas rocco says:

    We just found a beautiful specimen in our flower garden; it either is eating the leaves of one of our plants or it is frequenting a plant that someone else is eating. We are in the Hudson Valley about 80 miles north of NYC and neither of us had seen this golden tortoise beetle before. Are the common here and we have just not been attentive enough or is this one an exotic for our region of the state?

  10. George Snyder says:

    First time my wife and I have seen one of these pretty little bugs. We live in northern part of Wyoming ,Sheridan to be exact
    the weather must help in migration and ours has had a lot of moisture.

  11. Nancy Sheldon says:

    We found one of these gold bugs on our deck plants, potato vines in Allendale MI. We had never seen them before! It looked alien it was so shinny gold! Maybe it wasn’t the earwigs eating the leaves!

  12. brian says:

    Been wondering what was eating my morning glories. I just happened to look down and thought that I saw a drop of gold laying in the flowerbed. Looking closer there appeared to be two insects mating. One was the brightest ,shiniest gold I have ever seen on an insect . Mounted on its back was a opalescent, silvery mate of equal iridescence. I have seen fireflies every summer of my life ,but never these dazzling wonders. I live in Texas, outside of San Antonio, on the way to Houston.Truly, these bugs look as though they are from another World. Unfortunately, they flew off before I considered catching them and taking a photo. Well, it appears that they will not eat my scarlet runner. and I love these little bugs so much, I think I might just plant extra morning glories for them.

  13. Davette Phillips says:

    I have been on this earth for over 40 years and never saw one till today – I bought two beautiful vine chartreuse color outdoor plants ( possibly potato plant ) it was so beautiful!

  14. Kathi says:

    I live in New Madison, Ohio and I was standing there looking at my dads little memorial stone in my garden and the gold ladybug landed on the morning glory vine, It was amazing to me. I thought no one would believe me if I told them, but sure enough I looked it up and there is such a bug

  15. Carrie says:

    Found one this weekend in New London MN. First time seeing one as well. Very magestic looking!

  16. Madelyn Lowther says:

    I was with my mom gardening, then I came across a golden speck on a leaf. I had no idea what it was, if it was harmful……I told my mom about it and she thought it was cool, I set it down gently and it scurried away. I went on a bunch of websites and I happened to come across this one and it was very helpful……..I should have kept it though!

  17. Shirlene Simmons says:

    I just saw a gold ladybug in my garden in Baltimore MD. If I see it again I will take a picture .

  18. sally wilson says:

    Found one of these interesting little bugs when I turned over a morning glory leaf with holes. Sat down with it in my hand, tiny solid gold bug … and then it turned ladybug red color with tiny blackspots near the end of its wings and its tiny little antennae came out and it flew away from the palm of my hand. Was originally looking to eradicate little green worms from my rose bush. Sawflies? Where do they cocoon?

  19. sally wilson says:

    My comment is printed above

  20. Marie Pezarro says:

    I was playing bowls at my club in Harare, Zimbabwe, and saw something gold shining in the grass. It looked like a ladybird (maybe what others call a
    bug?). I put it under a glass so I could take it home to photograph, but felt
    sorry for it so put it inside – of course it flew off! After reading posts,
    I’m going to check out all Morning Glories in my retirement village and try
    and grow sweet potatoes. Was just so beautiful, made my day. Had never seen one before (am 84)

  21. nicola says:

    hallelujah for the internet and the bug lovers guides…
    one landed on my arm today in Harpers Ferry WV on a hot May day and decided to go for a ride with me. It loves bright sunshine- turns golden quickly.Took it home . So unreal looking, i thought it was a drone for a minute. Love you all – connected by fascination …what next?

  22. Ray Delbury says:

    Today June 27, 2020 -New Jersey – After 69 years I saw my first gold bug yesterday resting on my sweet potato leaf. WOW , a true gift from God. Today my son came home from work and I told him about my find. I asked him to guess what it is. He told me it was a Tortoise Beetle. I asked him how he knew. He said he saw two of them for the first time in his life two weeks ago at a friends house on a nightshade plant. I wonder if these bugs are more prevalent these days.

  23. Elizabeth says:

    I am in far northern California and just saw two of these on one of the wooden slats of my compost bin. I had never seen one before. They were beautiful and I honestly thought they were metal beads at first. There are no morning glories in my garden this year but there is plenty of bindweed and they are welcome to it!

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