Pearly Tortoise Beetle

a tortoise beetle, Cassidinae, from Kajiado, Kenya, photo © by Michael Plagens

Morning Glory, Ipomoea spathulata (shown below), growing near Insinya, Kajiado, Kenya. December 2014.

A xerically-adapted Morning-glory, Ipomoea spathulata, from scrublands in Kenya photo © Michael Plagens

Tortoise Beetles are amazing to look at. The adult beetles often are so metalic that one could believe they are items of jewelry. Like a reptilian tortoise, their shell offers considerable protection against predators. When threatened the beetle's feet cling to a smooth leaf surface with powerful forces and pull the shell down all around leaving just a slick impenetrable surface exposed.

Both the larvae (grubs) and adults feed on leaves of various plants. This one has a preference for plants in the morning glory family (convolvulaceae) including cultivated sweet potatoes. The larvae have barbed spines on their dorsum and posterior that can hold fecal material and cast exoskeletons. This is designed to deter or hide from would-be predaotors.

Chrysomelidae -- Leaf Beetle Family
Cassidinae -- Tortoise Beetles

More Information:

Kenya Natural History

Copyright Michael J. Plagens, page created 19 June 2015,
updated 15 July 2015