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Dogbane Beetle (Chrysochus auratus)

Dogbane beetle, indigenous to the eastern parts of North America, belongs to the oval leaf beetle (Eumolpinae), a subfamily of the leaf beetle (Chrysomelidae) family. The brightest among all the leaf beetle species, it gets its name from the dogbane plant that it primarily feeds on.

Dogbane Beetle

Scientific Classification

  • Family: Chrysomelidae
  • Genus: Chrysochus
  • Scientific name: Chrysochus auratus

Physical Description and Identification

Adult

Size: 8 – 11 mm (0.31 – 0.43 inches)

Color: It has an iridescent bluish-green body with a crimson, metallic copper or golden shine.

Other Characteristic Features: Since they are a part of the oval-shaped beetle subfamily, the dogbane beetle’s body is oval and convex. They also have a flat, blunt mandible and large hypopharynx, which help them ingest the dogbane plant’s latex with ease.

Dogbane Leaf Beetle

Larva

The larva has a white body and a brown head. It mostly burrows in the soil, feeding on the roots and leaves of its host plants.

Pupa

The larvae pupate in chambers within the soil from where the pupae emerge.

Egg

The eggs are small and round with a width and height of 3mm (0.11 inches) and 2 mm (0.07 inches), respectively.

Dogbane Beetle Eggs

Quick Facts

Other NamesGolden beetle
Lifespan6 – 8 weeks
DistributionThroughout eastern North America and southern Canada, mostly in the eastern portions of the Rocky Mountains and parts of Utah and Arizona 
HabitatForest, streambanks, forest edges, fields with gravelly or sandy soil, grasslands, railroad tracks, and everywhere else where their host plants grow  
Common PredatorsBirds, wasps
Seasons active from June – August
Host PlantsDogbane, (also milkweed occasionally) 
Diet  of larvae and adultsFly-trap dogbane, hemp dogbane, while some even feed on several milkweed species
Chrysochus auratus

Identifying the Damage Caused by Them

The larvae may pull out the roots, though the adults are not known to make holes or cause any other damage to the milkweed plants, as they mostly feed on the sticky sap.

Did You Know

  • The meaning of its scientific name Chrysochus auratus, is “made of gold”, which complements its appearance that generates a golden, shiny hue.
  • The sap it consumes is sticky often getting glued to its mouthparts and this beetle has a clever way of getting rid of it. After feeding a little, it immediately rubs its mandible on the leaf to remove its stickiness and then does a kind of a moonwalk by moving in the backward direction. It gets back to eating once it is glue-free.
  • Though they consume the dogbane plants, which have toxic substances, these beetles remain unharmed as they have special adaptive features for sequestering and ingesting the toxin.  They store the poison in their glands and release it when any predator tries to bite or attack them. 
Dogbane Beetle Image

Dogbane beetle, indigenous to the eastern parts of North America, belongs to the oval leaf beetle (Eumolpinae), a subfamily of the leaf beetle (Chrysomelidae) family. The brightest among all the leaf beetle species, it gets its name from the dogbane plant that it primarily feeds on.

Dogbane Beetle

Physical Description and Identification

Adult

Size: 8 – 11 mm (0.31 – 0.43 inches)

Color: It has an iridescent bluish-green body with a crimson, metallic copper or golden shine.

Other Characteristic Features: Since they are a part of the oval-shaped beetle subfamily, the dogbane beetle’s body is oval and convex. They also have a flat, blunt mandible and large hypopharynx, which help them ingest the dogbane plant’s latex with ease.

Dogbane Leaf Beetle

Larva

The larva has a white body and a brown head. It mostly burrows in the soil, feeding on the roots and leaves of its host plants.

Pupa

The larvae pupate in chambers within the soil from where the pupae emerge.

Egg

The eggs are small and round with a width and height of 3mm (0.11 inches) and 2 mm (0.07 inches), respectively.

Dogbane Beetle Eggs

Quick Facts

Other NamesGolden beetle
Lifespan6 – 8 weeks
DistributionThroughout eastern North America and southern Canada, mostly in the eastern portions of the Rocky Mountains and parts of Utah and Arizona 
HabitatForest, streambanks, forest edges, fields with gravelly or sandy soil, grasslands, railroad tracks, and everywhere else where their host plants grow  
Common PredatorsBirds, wasps
Seasons active from June – August
Host PlantsDogbane, (also milkweed occasionally) 
Diet  of larvae and adultsFly-trap dogbane, hemp dogbane, while some even feed on several milkweed species
Chrysochus auratus

Identifying the Damage Caused by Them

The larvae may pull out the roots, though the adults are not known to make holes or cause any other damage to the milkweed plants, as they mostly feed on the sticky sap.

Did You Know

  • The meaning of its scientific name Chrysochus auratus, is “made of gold”, which complements its appearance that generates a golden, shiny hue.
  • The sap it consumes is sticky often getting glued to its mouthparts and this beetle has a clever way of getting rid of it. After feeding a little, it immediately rubs its mandible on the leaf to remove its stickiness and then does a kind of a moonwalk by moving in the backward direction. It gets back to eating once it is glue-free.
  • Though they consume the dogbane plants, which have toxic substances, these beetles remain unharmed as they have special adaptive features for sequestering and ingesting the toxin.  They store the poison in their glands and release it when any predator tries to bite or attack them. 
Dogbane Beetle Image

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