image credit: Rundstedt B. Rovillos

image credit: [email protected]

image credit: Dio Leung

tortoise beetle, Aspidomorpha sanctaecrucisimage credit: Rundstedt B. Rovillos

tortoise beetle, Aspidomorpha sanctaecrucisimage credit: pbase.com
Habitat: Indonesia
Status: No conservation concerns

I love this beetle. Love. Love. Love.

This is a type of Tortoise Beetle, specifically Aspidomorpha sanctaecrucis. They get their common name because of the tortoise-like shell which they can pull down very strongly to the surface of a leaf, thereby thwarting the attentions of predators such as ants. The second part of the Latin or scientific name means “holy cross”, because from the top it looks like the beetles are splayed out by being nailed to a cross! (via Richard Seaman)

First I loved the Tortoise Beetle solely because I thought it was interesting – I mean it definitely resembles a little turtle doesn’t it? Then I loved it because of its cute face (see pic #1). Finally, I love it because it’s got a cool trick:

The Tortoise Beetle can perform optical illusions of color!

tortoise beetle, Aspidomorpha sanctaecrucisimage credit: winfred

the outer cuticle of the beetle’s shell is transparent and reflects light through a layer of liquid over the next layer of cuticle. The beetles change color depending on the availability of the liquid layer.

tortoise beetle, Aspidomorpha sanctaecrucisimage credit: winfred

some species can change color very rapidly when disturbed by adding or removing liquid from immediately under their shell.