clavate tortoise beetle

(Plagiometriona clavata)

Conservation Status
clavate tortoise beetle
Photo by Alfredo Colon
  IUCN Red List

not listed


NNR - Unranked


not listed


Clavate tortoise beetle is fairly common in North and Central America. In the United States it occurs from the northeast to the Great Plains. It is easily recognized by the wrinkled upper surface with a dark teddy bear-like pattern.

Adults are tortoise-shaped, ¼ to 5 16 (6.5 to 7.5 mm) long, 3 16 to ¼ (5.5 to 6.3 mm) wide, oval when viewed from above, and convex when viewed from the side. The female is larger than the male.

The upper thoracic plate (pronotum) and hardened wing covers (elytra) are green and translucent. The edges are spread out, flattened, and thin, and extend over the head and legs. The front (anterior) edge of the pronotum is broadly rounded. A large, opaque, dark brown spot covers most of the elytra and extends onto the pronotum. The spot resembles a teddy bear, with the the teddy bear’s “head” on the pronotum and the front and hind “legs” reaching the elytral margins. The plate between the wing bases (scutellum) is also dark brown. There is also at least some gold coloration adjacent to the edges of the brown spot. The upper surface of the elytra is very rough with wrinkles, rounded projections, and a prominent peak in the middle behind the scutellum.

The head is completely concealed when viewed from above. The eyes are not notched. The antennae are long but less than half as long as the body. They are mostly pale but some of the terminal segments are black. Segment 3 is slightly longer than segment 2, and segment 8 is distinctly longer than wide. The antennae are extended when at rest. There is no groove on the underside of the prothorax for them to be tucked into. The plate on the face above the mouth (clypeus) is completely horizontal.

The last part of each leg (tarsus), corresponding to the foot, has five segments. The fourth segment is very short and is concealed within the broadened tip of the third segment, making the tarsus appear to have only four segments. The last segment bears a pair of claws. The dilation at the base of each claw is angular.




Total Length: ¼ to 5 16


Similar Species










Adults eat round holes in the leaves.

The larvae carry dried fecal matter over their body, presumably as a form of camouflage. The fecal matter is attached to a forked appendage on the last abdominal segment, and is held suspended over the body.


Life Cycle




Larva Food




Adult Food


Groundcherry (Physalis spp.) and nightshade (Solanum spp.)


Distribution Map



24, 29, 30.


ITIS treats Plagiometriona clavata as a synonym of Helocassis clavata.




Fairly common



Coleoptera (beetles)  


Polyphaga (water, rove, scarab, longhorn, leaf and snout beetles)  




Chrysomeloidea (long-horned and leaf beetles)  


Chrysomelidae (leaf beetles)  


Cassidinae (tortoise beetles and the hispines)  


Cassidini (tortoise beetles)  



Subordinate Taxa


clavate tortoise beetle (Plagiometriona clavata clavata)

clavate tortoise beetle (Plagiometriona clavata testudinaria)




Helocassis clavata


Common Names


clavate tortoise beetle

translucent tortoise beetle









On insects, a hardened plate on the face above the upper lip (labrum).



The hardened or leathery forewings on an insect used to protect the fragile hindwings, which are used for flying, in beetles and true bugs.



The saddle-shaped, exoskeletal plate on the upper side of the first segment of the thorax of an insect.



The exoskeletal plate covering the rearward (posterior) part of the middle segment of the thorax in some insects. In Coleoptera, Hemiptera, and Homoptera, the dorsal, often triangular plate behind the pronotum and between the bases of the front wings. In Diptera, the exoskeletal plate between the abdomen and the thorax.



The last two to five subdivisions of an insect’s leg, attached to the tibia; the foot. Plural: tarsi.






Visitor Photos

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Alfredo Colon
  clavate tortoise beetle    Photos



  Clavate Tortoise Beetle (Plagiometriona clavata)
Andree Reno Sanborn
  Clavate Tortoise Beetle (Plagiometriona clavata)  



Visitor Videos

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Other Videos
  Tortoise Beetle

Published on May 26, 2012

Behold my first Clavate Tortoise Beetle! I have seen this interesting insect in my insect book for decades and FINALLY get to see a real one. Of course, as with any unique looking insect, I only found ONE.




Visitor Sightings

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Wendy Steele

Location: Brooklyn Park MN

I've seen many on my potato leaves in the garden. Today I was pulling weeds, sweaty and dirty and my daughter said, "mom, you have some dirt or something on your face". I went to brush it away and it was attached. It felt hard, like one of these beetles and it left a bloody spot on my face. Right now it itches and is inflamed. Are they known to bite? Also, how do they reproduce?

John Valo

As to the first question, I don’t know about tortoise beetles specifically, but some beetles do bite. Here is a link from Terminix:


As to the second question... in the usual manner.

Alfredo Colon

Location: Woodbury, Minnesota

clavate tortoise beetle







Created: 1/7/2019

Last Updated:

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