Thursday, March 31, 2011

Epilachna abrupta

Plant-feeding ladybird beetles are not something that many people know about. We have a couple of species in the United States (the Mexican bean beetle and the squash beetle) but they are usually not associated with ladybirds in most people's mind. In the tropics, however, there are a lot more species and many of them are quite large. These pictures are of Epilachna abrupta a species that I believe feeds on the same solanaceous plant it is resting on here. I have no idea which species it is (I'm not much of a botanist) but the leaves are nearly a foot long. The plant itself is over 6 feet tall and fairly stout spines project from the midrib (visible in the second picture). These beetles are nearly half an inch long.

I found them by the side of the road while climbing up (east) into the cloud forest out of San Jose, Costa Rica last May. A soft rain was falling but the couple of mating pairs that I found seemed not to be bothered underneath the large green leaves.

The color pattern of the species is variable. Robert Gordon's revision of the species of the Western Hemisphere illustrates both this form and one with a dark band across the middle of the elytra. Too bad there weren't any larvae around. I expect that they would be quite impressive. The Epilachna larvae that I have seen are covered with branching spines. The landscape shot is from the same cloud forest.


Anonymous said...

A timely post, as I have an Epilachna post in progress. My species isn't nearly as cool as yours, though - nor was it seen in such impressive surroundings.

Sam Wells said...

Thanks, sometimes you just get lucky.