Thanks to Ted MaCrae's post (beetlesinthebush.wordpress.com) on February 25 (and Lech Borowiec's excellent cassidine interactive manual) I have been able to place a name on this beautiful tortoise beetle I ran across last spring in Costa Rica. It is Stolas lebasii. I have seen it a few times in Central America in forested areas and it always manages to make me stop and marvel at its deep metallic green color and bright spots.
For a leaf beetle it is quite large, almost half an inch long. When you look at a live one in its natural habitat it always seems much bigger. I found this individual on a forested path in the Wilson Botanical Area near the Panamanian border. As you can see there were a lot of bromeliads and other epiphytes hanging from moss-covered trees along the trail. Various tree ferns were also abundant.
It was a quiet damp place with the distant warbling of tropical birds and the occasional buzzing of forest insects. In such a place one could spend years and still not see every species that lives there. For travelers to southern Costa Rica wishing to see monkeys, sloths and various tropical birds all together in a package, the Osa Peninsula may be a better place to visit. If, however, one wishes to see the inspiring diversity of a montane forest, the Wilson Botanical Area is hard to beat.