New species of fascinating opportunistic shelter using leaf beetles

September 27, 2013

Many animals construct homes or shelters to escape from biological and physical hostilities. Birds, spiders, termites, ants, bees and wasps are the most famous animal architects. As shelter construction requires considerable investment of resources and time, builders tend to minimize the cost of building while maximizing the benefits.

Builders are rather uncommon among adult leaf beetles though young ones of certain species use own feces to construct a defensive shield. Two closely related, hitherto unknown species of tiny southern Indian leaf beetles, only slightly larger than the size of a pin-head, and their clever way of using and modifying low cost shelters, is described in the open access journal ZooKeys. These beetles make use of holes pre-formed by larger leaf feeding beetles on the leaves of their host trees thus reducing cost of the shelter just like some birds that nest in existing cavities produced by primary cavity nesters, such as woodpeckers.

The beetles also use artificially made holes to construct hideouts called "leaf hole shelters". As the shape and size of the hole were not exactly in tune with the requirements of the beetle, they resized the hole by partitioning with a wall constructed with own fecal pellets. Use of feces by adult leaf beetles for construction of shelters is being described for the first time, with these two new southern Indian species namely Orthaltica eugenia and Orthaltica terminalia. The beetles are named after their host trees, common in jungles of the Western Ghats Mountains, which is a globally recognized hot spot of biodiversity.
-end-
Original Source:

Prathapan KD, Konstantinov AS, Shameem KM, Balan AP (2013) First record of leaf-hole shelters used and modified by leaf beetles (Coleoptera, Chrysomelidae), with descriptions of two new Orthaltica Crotch species from southern India. ZooKeys 336: 47-59. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.336.5435

Pensoft Publishers

Related Beetles Articles from Brightsurf:

Beetles cooperate in brood care
Ambrosia beetles are fascinating: they practice agriculture with fungi and they live in a highly developed social system.

"Helper" ambrosia beetles share reproduction with their mother
A new study shows for the first time that Xyleborus affinis beetles are cooperative breeders, where females disperse to found new nests or stay to help their mother raise siblings, while also reproducing themselves.

Tiny beetles a bellwether of ecological disruption by climate change
New research shows that as species across the world adjust where they live in response to climate change, they will come into competition with other species that could hamper their ability to keep up with the pace of this change.

Scientists reconstruct beetles from the Cretaceous
An international research team led by the University of Bonn (Germany) and Palacky University (Czech Republic) has examined four newly found specimens of the Mysteriomorphidae beetle using computer tomography and has been able to reconstruct them.

Pine beetles successful no matter how far they roam -- with devastating effects
Whether they travel only a few metres or tens of kilometres to a new host tree, female pine beetles use different strategies to find success--with major negative consequences for pine trees, according to new research by University of Alberta biologists.

Beetles changed their diet during the Cretaceous period
Like a snapshot, amber preserves bygone worlds. An international team of paleontologists from the University of Bonn has now described four new beetle species in fossilized tree resin from Myanmar, which belong to the Kateretidae family.

Jewel beetles' sparkle helps them hide in plain sight
Bright colors are often considered an evolutionary tradeoff in the animal kingdom.

Bark beetles control pathogenic fungi
Pathogens can drive the evolution of social behaviour in insects.

Sexual competition helps horned beetles survive deforestation
A study of how dung beetles survive deforestation in Borneo suggests that species with more competition among males for matings are less likely to go extinct, according to research led by scientists from Queen Mary University of London and Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

Dung beetles get wind
Researchers have shown for the first time that these insects use different directional sensors to achieve the highest possible navigational precision in different conditions.

Read More: Beetles News and Beetles Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.