October 28, 2009
As we live in the southern hemisphere, we are currently in the midst of spring with summer close at hand. For us, this means we will be seeing more and more bugs (woo-hoo). That being said, my kids and I found this beautiful beetle early this morning on the sidewalk outside their school. We immediately rescued it so that it would not get stepped on by the students. I let it walk around the palm of my hand so that we could let my children’s classmates admire it as well. It is a beautiful shiny hard-shelled beetle. When walking, it does so quite quickly, but remains fairly still for the most part. It is about an inch and a half from the tip of it’s nose to the tip of its rear, and the antennas add about another half an inch to its overall length, with a thickness of abo ut a quarter of an inch. I have searched and searched but I cannot identify what type of beetle it is. Any ideas? Another interesting note: Shortly after I returned home and placed it on a branch to retrieve my camera, it slowly and deliberately excreted something onto the branch from the tip of it’s rear. It would slowly move forward bit by bit as it attached the excretion to the branch. The beetle then ‘patted’ it to be certain it was firmly attached to the branch. The excretion is tan in color, about a quarter by an eighth of an inch, and has an oval-rounded shape to it. It resembles a very flattened rolly polly with a clearish tan coating over it. Could this be a single larvae? Thanks for anything you might be able to tell us about this wonderful creature.
Sao Paulo, Brazil
We are requesting assistance with your beetle. Our initial impression is that it is a Leaf Beetle in the family Chrysomelidae. We hope Eric Eaton can verify that.
Right on! Yes, it is indeed a leaf beetle in the family Chrysomelidae, subfamily Hispinae. Many are leaf miners, but I can’t imagine this large species being one of them:-)
Karl locates some images online
Everyone is right! Following Eric’s lead, the genus is Coraliomela (Hispinae: Alurnini). But there are several species in that genus in Brazil and there is very little information to be found, so that is likely as close as we are going to get. Chances are that at least some look quite similar (e.g., C. tetramaculata). Regarding the behavior described by Todd, I would guess the beetle was laying eggs – I can’t think what else it may have been doing. From what I could gather, some and perhaps all Coraliomela species feed on palms; the larvae of C. brunnea (an entirely red species), for example, are considered one of Brazil’s most important pests on coconut seedlings. I can’t tell if the plant in Todd’s photo is a palm. Regards.