Calligrapha Beetle

Some of the most artistically patterned beetles are the many different species of Calligrapha Beetle (Calligrapha spp.). These ornamental-looking beetles are similar in shape to a ladybug and have a dark metallic head and thorax and cream to old ivory-colored elytra (wing covers) with mirrored dark lines, spots, and/or swirls. Calligrapha Beetles are named for the calligraphic markings on their elytra, which can be quite ornate in some species.

I observed this dark copper and cream-colored Calligrapha Beetle below in the foothills of the Santa Rita Mountains near Tucson, Arizona in July of 2006. The wonderful pattern on its elytra looked strangely like a some sort of Rorschach inkblot test… What shape do you see in it?

Calligrapha Beetle (Calligrapha sp.)

Calligrapha Beetles are in the Leaf Beetle Family (Chrysomelidae), and both the larvae and adult beetles generally feed on leaves, usually those of trees and shrubs. A few Calligrapha Beetles are significant plant pests, especially of already diseased or stressed plants, but the effects of most of these beetles are minimal. Some Calligrapha Beetles are even used as a form of natural weed control for particular weed species.