The Tortoise Beetle: 15 Ridiculous Facts (Part 1)

The tortoise beetle is a lesser-known creatures of the insect world, and it is high time this beautiful bug got some recognition. To finally introduce you to this majestic work of nature, we have compiled a list of the 15 most ridiculous facts that you won’t believe! Stay tuned for our part two article, coming soon to reveal the top eight most ridiculous facts about the unique tortoise beetle!

Number Fifteen: The What?

The tortoise beetle! These unique insects are named for the elegant and colorful designs they wear on their shell, often resembling the shape of a tortoise. They have been observed in a wide variety of bright and even metallic hues, and quite frankly look more like jewels that bugs.

Number Fourteen: A Shell Game

When it comes to escaping the threats of predators, the tortoise beetle’s shell is its largest defense. The shell covers around the entirety of the beetle’s soft body, and is even slightly curved to encompass it even better.

Number Thirteen: The Tortoise Beetle’s Color

The magnificent display of color from the shell of a tortoise beetle is quite a unique aspect of the mysterious mother nature. Remarkably, the beetle actually has the ability to change these colors like a chameleon. The actual shell is really just transparent; it reflects light through a liquid layer that sits just beneath it. The color is dependent on the amount of liquid present, and the beetle can excrete more or less of it to alter its color.

Number Twelve: Growing Up

As a baby, this insect isn’t quite so majestic. It lacks the formation of a shell at this stage, so it has an array of other mechanisms to defend itself. The oval, segmented body of the young beetle has spikes lining its sides, followed by two enormous tail spikes. These tail spikes are often as long as two-thirds of the whole insect’s body length.

Number Eleven: The Back-Up Plan

If the creature’s spikes fall short in fending off predators, the tortoise beetle has a unique back-up defense mechanism. When you aren’t intimidating enough not to get eaten, well you simply have to make yourself unappetizing. To do this, the beetle will coat itself in a shield made of its own feces.

Number Ten: Other Fecal Defenses

Among the various types of tortoise beetle larvae are other versions of defense methods similar to the poop shield. Some species will use their tail spikes, which are actually a part of the insect’s anus, to take a pile of their feces and place it on their backs. In a few species, they have even wrapped the fecal matter around their tail spikes to use as a weapon for bludgeoning. These amazing creature can carry fecal loads as much as half their body weight.

Number Nine: Assassin Bugs

The biggest threat to the tortoise beetle larvae are a variety of bugs known as assassin bugs. They have the habit of piercing their fangs straight through the poop shield, and sucking out the insides of the insect vampire-style. Stay tuned for our part two article, coming soon to reveal the top eight most ridiculous facts about the unique tortoise beetle!