Clavate Tortoise Beetle

Quarter inch diameter wierd bug
July 21, 2009
The first time i saw one of these, i just thought it was a strange growth on the leaf. They always seem to be on tomato plants. I was looking closely at this one, and after touching it a few times, it moved. I touched it again and it flew to another plant. I went and got my camera and got this picture. The clear like ring around it is actually the wings, or wing covers, i’m not sure. The antennai are facing down in the picture.
central Pennsylvania

Clavate Tortoise Beetle
Clavate Tortoise Beetle

Dear packrat,
This is a Clavate Tortoise Beetle, Plagiometriona clavata.  We also just posted a photo of the larva which is a spiny green creature that never completely sheds its exoskeleton.  The dried remnants of the cast of skin stay attached to the spiny larva.  The Tortoise Beetles are a tribe of the Leaf Beetle family Chrysomelidae.  Beetles are characterized as having two different sets of wings.  The outer wings are usually hardened and are termed the elytra.  The soft flying wings are protected under the elytra and only exposed during flight.  The elytra on the Clavate Tortoise Beetle which forms a carapace does contain clear areas and BugGuide describes the markings as:  “most noticeable feature in adult, covering much of the carapace, is a dark brown irregular patch shaped like a teddy bear, with the front and back “legs” of the “bear” extending to the outer margins of the elytra, and the “head” of the “bear” extending onto the pronotum.

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