Friday, July 22, 2016

What's chewing up the morning glory

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that something was chewing up a volunteer purple bindweed (Ipomoea cordatotriloba) that's growing on the chain-link fence in our back yard. But I couldn't find the culprit. Until YESTERDAY. For the first time in a long while, I was shooting photos in the back yard for fun (my eyes are better). That's when I spied a beetle on the underside of a leaf.

I got a couple of bad shots. The sneaky beetles either quickly dropped to the ground or flew off. But I was DETERMINED.

Finally, I corralled one in a glass jar and took some pictures. That's it in the photo below. I recognized it as a tortoise beetle. So I got online and sleuthed the species: the golden tortoise beetle (Charidotella sexpunctata), which host on the leaves of sweet potatoes and other morning glories. Bingo!

Here's an interesting fact: adults can change color when disturbed (and when mating). Larvae also cover themselves with fecal matter to conceal themselves. Check out this article: "Glad you ditched the anal fork, Golden Tortoise Beetle."

 A while ago, I went back outside, determined to track down at least one more tortoise beetle for this post. Well, I managed to find not one but two. However, they're a different species that also eats morning glories: mottled tortoise beetle (Deloyala guttata). Fine with me! I think tortoise beetles are gorgeous! And I don't mind them eating up our purple bindweed at all. 

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