Lantana Leaf-Mining Beetle

Uroplata girardi

a hispine beetle, Cassidinae, from Kamwenge, Uganda, photo © by Michael Plagens

Mining larvae and adults found on Lantana in Kamwenge, western Uganda. December 2012. Few plants had evidence of their mines.

Although a number of insects have been introduced to the African continent with the aim of controlling lantana, an exotic, invasive shrub, none have become well established nor are any effecting any measure of control. The reasons for these failures are unknown. These same beetles have been introduced to Australia and other locations for the same purpose.

This leaf beetle was first found on lantana in Brazil by entomologists and later evaluated as a potential biological control agent. The larva is flattened dorsally-ventrally and this morphology is related to its feeding behavior. The larva tunnels inside the leaf between the upper and lower surface. A hyaline window appears where the intervening leaf tissue has been removed. There are many other species of these Hispine Leaf Beetles, each with a rather narrow range of plants upon which the larvae feed. Thus this particular species should not be found feeding on leaves of any native East African plants.

Chrysomelidae -- Leaf Beetle Family
Cassidinae -- Tortoise Beetles

More Information:

Kenya Natural History

Copyright Michael J. Plagens, page created 15 February 2013.