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The dogbane leaf beetle is metallic in appearance and dwells on the delicate flowers and leaves, wandering and living its life. This beetle is native to the Northern American continent. The dogbane beetle's scientific name is Chrysochus auratus and it belongs to the family Chrysomelidae, the family of leaf beetles having around 50,000 species and 2,500 genera of beetles in it.
Here are some more interesting facts about the dogbane beetle that draws its name from the favorite host plant, dogbane. Afterward, do check our other articles on the bombardier beetle and the common wasp as well.
The dogbane leaf beetle is an insect, an arthropod with characteristic jointed appendages, and a very shiny chitinous exoskeleton. The dogbane beetle wanders around its favorite host plant, dogbane, and feeds on its roots and leaves. A female lays one to two eggs every summer the larvae of which feeds on dogbane plant roots and pupates to become an adult beetle. Scientifically this beetle is known as Chrysochus auratus and was first described by a Danish zoologist Johan Christian Fabricius in the year 1775.
A dogbane leaf beetle belongs to the class Insecta of phylum Arthropoda in the kingdom Animalia. Dogbane beetles further belong to the family Chrysomelidae, the family of beetles having over 37,000 species in total. This family further belongs to the order Coleoptera, the order of beetles with more than 400,000 species in it. Some other interesting beetles include the tiger beetle, water beetle, and ox beetle.
A dogbane leaf beetle species is mostly found dwelling in the areas of the host plants they primarily feed on. There is no proper data on their population in the world, but the studies suggest that beetles make up 5-10% of the total beetle population found in the North American continent.
Dogbane leaf beetles are usually found in the grassland regions, fields, and the areas where plant species such as Apocynum cannabinum, Apocynum androsaemifolium, and Asclepiadaceae are found in the North American Continent. Such plants are the hotspots for these insects.
In the said regions dogbane beetles prefer living and breeding in the open habitats, near roadside areas, and street corners. Dogbane beetles are found living and breeding on a variety of soils throughout the United States. They follow the host plants which are able to survive near the forest edges, gravelly soils, and sandy areas.
Most of the time one may spot them alone. Dogbane beetles mostly prefer living in solitary. But during mating season, dogbane beetles may be found in pairs also a few individuals of dogbane beetle may be found dwelling together looking for mates in their habitat.
The recorded lifespan of a dogbane leaf beetle is six to eight weeks or around 42-46 days on the host plants after reaching an adult stage in the wild. Possible predators feed on them and this is one of the reasons for their reduced life span.
Both male and female beetles on average mate once a day and they both do so with multiple partners. Dominant ones are the male beetles and they get to choose their partners. Females do not have a choice to select their desired mate. The process of copulation takes over an hour and the males make sure that the eggs are fertilized in the female beetle's body. Dogbane beetles usually mate during the daytime. Interestingly interspecies mating also occurs between dogbane beetles and cobalt milkweed beetles. The hybrid born from this mating has an intermediate morphology. But the hybrids born are not fertile in nature. Males’ beetles are very choosy in nature. The breeding season is between mid to late summer and the female beetle lays one to three eggs on an average. These eggs become larvae and later pupate to feed on dogbane plant roots.
There is no proper label given by IUCN to these insects. But these beetles are found in abundance around dogbane plants, hence their conservation status is of No Concern at present.
A dogbane leaf beetle, scientifically known as Chrysochus auratus, has a very shiny metallic appearing exoskeleton of varying colors such as metallic copper, golden, and shiny crimson. These beetles belong to the phylum Arthropoda, hence they show two pairs of jointed appendages that assist them in crawling on the surface. Beetles also have a pair of antennae that are separated and face in opposite directions and are present between their eyes, these act as sensory organs, in picking up vibrations. Another sensory organ is a pair of compound eyes that gives them a compound vision. Dogbane beetles have a body that appears sort of oblong and convex in shape. Their body is well segmented into eleven parts, while the twelfth part is fused with the preceding segment.
Dogbane leaf beetles are really cute creatures. Their metallic shiny body appears appealing to many spectators. Their beautiful and unique shape and shiny appearance are a reason that dogbane leaf beetles are frequently depicted in many cartoon series such as anime.
A very common way of communication in beetles and other insects is the use of pheromones. These insects of North America use pheromones namely cuticular hydrocarbon signals to detect the presence of other beetles in their vicinity and especially the female beetle for mating and also detect possible predators around. Besides, the micro hair on their feet and the antenna help them pick up possible vibrations around them.
A dogbane leaf beetle is ⅓ or even smaller in size than the Periplaneta americana species of cockroaches. An adult Chrysochus auratus measures around 0.3-0.4 in (8-11 mm) in length.
Beetles generally are fast crawlers and move with a really good speed. The average speed noted for a small-sized beetle is around 5.5 mph (9 kph). There is no proper estimation of the speed of these beetles but they are said to move around similarly. Their fast speed is an aid in escaping possible predators.
These creatures are barely a centimeter in size. They have a hard chitinous exoskeleton which is lighter in weight and helps them in flying some distance.
There are no separate names for the male and female beetles and both are referred to by the same name. These beetles are really small in size and do not have any distinguishing feature between both the sexes that can be seen with the naked eye. However, both show sexual dimorphism when seen through a compound microscope.
A baby dogbane leaf beetle just like any other beetle is referred to as a grub or even a larva. These larvae may be found in the trunk of the trees or even on the stems of the plant. The female lays them under dogbane leaves and later these feed on the dogbane root after pupating.
A dogbane leaf beetle mostly has a herbivore diet. They feed on various plants such as dogbane (Apocynum cannabinum and Apocynum androsaemifolium). Sometimes they may feed on milkweed plants as well.
As per the Entomological Society of America, a dogbane leaf beetle is not itself poisonous but it feeds on a plant that produces toxins. These toxins are reported to be powerful enough to kill a dog. But the beetle is easily able to digest it.
A pet enthusiast may keep them as pets in captivity that mimics their natural environment. This insect species may make good pets if your vicinity is filled with plants (Indian and American hemp) that have toxins in them and have a possibility of killing your pets. These beetles will feed on them and eliminate them.
The Apocynaceae plant is fed on by dogbane leaf beetles. These plants produce a toxin named cardenolides. These cardenolides are dangerous chemicals for insects and certain pathogens. But the evolutionary process has made these beetles adaptable to feed on these plants. These insects of North America are sort of a nemesis for them. Post feeding, this compound is used by the dogbane leaf beetle and its larvae as a defensive weapon against predatory wasps.
A dogbane leaf beetle feeds on Indian hem and American hemp plant species which are also referred to as dogbane plant species. These species produce certain toxins which are harmful to our pets and these beetles are able to feed on them without getting harmed.
A dogbane leaf beetle is very common in Northern America and Southern Canada along the Rocky mountains. It is abundantly found in Illinois, almost along every street. These insects of North America are abundantly found in certain grasslands and many railway areas in Illinois. Also, they are found feeding in milkweed fields.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other arthropods from our ground beetle facts and rhinoceros beetle facts pages.
You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable dogbane leaf beetle coloring pages.
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