Beetle found eatting vegetation of and mating on Ailanthus altissima “Tree of Heaven” plant
Tue, Dec 2, 2008 at 5:00 AM
I was studying the Ailanthus webworm this summer in Richmond Virginia, and started doing night time observations on the bug colonies of Ailanthus altissima the “Tree of Heaven” plant. I had started to notice large quantities of herbivoiry other than that of the webworm and when I started doing the night time observatioins, I found this beetle feeding and mating (while feeding it seemed) on the Tree of Heaven plant creating the herbivory patterns that I was curious about. It never fed on any of the surrounding plants, and its patterns of herbivory were seen very widespread and very distinctively around the Richmond VA area. I am very interested to see what this beetle is, because it seems like it may be a specialist to this plant which is something I am looking into. So if you could help me out, I’d really appreciate it! The picture is a little bit out of focus because of the night time (and i’m not the best photographer), but let me know what you think, this is very interesting!
According to BugGuide, the Asiatic Garden Beetle, Maladera castanea, “Feeds at night on leaves of roses, chrysanthemums.” There is no indication that it feeds on Ailanthus leaves, but this native of Eastern temperate Asia was “Introduced and established on east coast of United States.” Then we located another website on the Ailanthus tree that indicates: “The Asiatic garden beetle (Maladera castanea) feeds on numerous plants during night flights, including ailanthus. ” We hope that you are working towards discovering a damaging agent that will eliminate the entire population of Ailanthus trees from the New World. In our opinion, the Ailanthus tree is the most important invasive exotic plant in North America, and we are waging our own campaign to obliterate the population in our rustic Mount Washington, Los Angeles hillside.