Subject: Can you ID this beetle?
Geographic location of the bug: Merritt Island, Brevard County, FL
Time: 02:52 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Hello,
Hoping you can ID these beetles, which are located on (and apparently snacking on) railroad vine (Ipomoea pes-caprae) in a residential landscape. These are about twice the size of your standard issue ladybug beetle. Photo taken Aug. 12, 2021, mid-afternoon, south facing planting bed.
How you want your letter signed: LG
We quickly found your Tortoise Beetle, Chelymorpha cribraria, on Featured Creatures where it states: “The genus Chelymorpha Boheman contains more than 100 species, which are mostly Neotropical in distribution. Two species have been recorded (Blatchley 1924) previously from Florida: Chelymorpha cassidea (Fabricius) and Chelymorpha geniculata Boheman. The endemic Florida Chelymorpha geniculata has had a checkered taxonomic history. It is often considered either a synonym or subspecies of Chelymorpha cassidea (Balbaugh and Hays 1972). Both are uniformly tan to red-brown in color with 12 to 14 black spots on the elytra and four to six on the pronotum. Chelymorpha cribraria is extremely polymorphic in color (Vasconcellos-Neto 1988), and most of the color forms have been described as separate species. Only two color forms have been found in Florida so far. The most common color form in Florida is bicolored, with pronotum black and elytra brick-red or tan. Much less common is the color form having a tan ground color with metallic reflections, numerous black speckles, and longitudinal red stripes on the elytra.” According to BugGuide: “adventive in FL (established), native to S. America & West Indies” and “showed up in so. FL following hurricane Andrew (Sep. 1993). ” The species has no common name.