Saturday, July 18, 2015

Keeping it low key...



Behaviorally speaking, nearly on the opposite side of Coleoptera from tiger beetles is the docile Dogbane Leaf Beetle Chrysochus auratus (from aurat meaning "gold" or "golden"). Other than going to work, I've pretty much been cooped up on account of my recent muscle injury. Though it was really hot and humid this afternoon, I needed to get outside and do something nature-y. I decided to explore a nearby prairie by Esser Pond where dogbane grows, figuring I would likely encounter some of the golden leaf beetles at work.



There's no intense searching or stealthy stalking involved; these shiny plant eating insects are one of the easiest beetles to photograph. Though they bear some resemblence to the exotic and invasive Japanese Beetle, the Dogbane Leaf Beetle is a native species and have no known negative economic impacts on humans.







Though I've photographed this species on numerous occasions, I've never actually observed them eat until this particular outing. I missed the entire process in the following three shots, but caught this one walking backwards dragging the plant's sap...



Chilling after eating...



Here it is again...



But with this next series I got the entire sequence. First, the beetle chews away an area on the edge of a leaf...



Then the milky sap begins to emerge...



Next, the beetle grabs some of the sap and walks backwards with it, pulling as it goes...



And then down the hatch!



The Dogbane Leaf Beetle!





All images © 2015 Mike McDowell

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