This week’s Walk of the Week (WOW) here at the Museum is to a small patch of interesting plants which attract many different insects to both its tiny but potent flowers, and to its leaves (the stems and leaves are toxic, you can touch but don’t be tempted to eat them).

While you’re there admiring the plant you may notice one or several green-bronze iridescent beetles on its leaves. The beetle is about 1/4″  – 3/8″ in length. It feeds on the leaves of the plant which is why it’s called a ______ Leaf Beetle (Chrysochus auratus).

Dogbane Leaf Beetle (6/27/14).
________ Leaf Beetle (6/27/14).

If you’re lucky you may see a mating pair.

A mating pair 6/27/14).
A mating pair 6/27/14).

The beetles lay their eggs on the underside of the plant’s leaves after encasing the eggs in fecal matter. When the eggs hatch the larvae chew their way out of the encasement and drop to the ground where they dig into the soil. They subsist on the roots of the plant in the larval stage of their lives and emerge as adults the following spring or summer to start the cycle over again.

As you can see, the beetles are closely tied to the plant. And while most people consider this plant an annoying weed, I think there’s a spot in everyone’s garden for at least a few plants. This is a very attractive beetle and you’re not likely to see it if the neighborhood’s devoid of this plant.

If you don’t like beetles, you can always make cordage from the fibers in the stem of the dried plant.

Enjoy you’re Walk!

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