Your site is awesome–and so helpful! Glad I found it via a Google search…
My kids and I have had trouble id’ing the following insect that we found on my wife’s van last night. It looks like–and is exactly the same size as–a typical ladybug. We live in southern California.
We didn’t recognize your Tortoise Beetle species, so we did some web searching. We located this site through the County of Los Angeles Agricultural Commissioner that states: “New Agricultural Pest for Southern California Australian Tortoise Beetle, Trachymela sloanei Introduction: In early February, 1998, Australian Tortoise Beetle (ATB), Trachymela sloanei , was detected for the first time in western Riverside County at a private residence containing acreage of Red gum eucalyptus (Eucalyptus camaldulensis ). A specimen of the new beetle was noticed by the owner and taken to the Department of Entomology, University of California, Riverside, for identification. The find represents a new record not only for California but also for the New World. ” As the insect feeds on the leaves from a plant native to its own country and not southern California, it was inevitable that it would one day enter our closely guarded borders, following the Eucalyptus Tree Borer and other Australian insects that like the California climate where their host plants thrive without natural pests. It is said that eucalyptus trees are the commonest trees in southern California, but their numbers are dwindling due to the introduction of insect pests. Thank you for contributing this new species to our archive.