Insect Macro Photography: Tortoise Beetle Larva

By June 24, 2017All, Bugs & Insects
Tortoise Beetle Larva Cassidini insect macro photos

Macro photo of Tortoise Beetle Larva, Cassidini spp.

Nature’s variability never ceases to amaze me. Some years I see particular insect species en mass, and the next year they seem absent. This year in June I noticed Tortoise Beetle larvae all around my garden and backyard. They motionlessly clasp to the stems of various plants.  They stand out because of they’re bright yellow and have an extremely odd shape. I love macro photography because it’s like exploring a different world, and Tortoise Beetle Larvae epitomize that. To most, this alien-like creature is probably more believable in sci-fi than on real Earth.

The saucer shaped body is lined with long, ominous-looking spikes. A dangerous looking appendage protrudes out of the abdomen in the posture of a Scorpion’s tail. In truth both structures are soft and harmless, and simply provide a barrier between would be predators and the larva’s soft body. The dark, crusty structure protruding from the abdomen is called a fecal shield. The name is pretty explanatory. The larva’s anus is telescopic and maneuverable, and is called the anal turret. It uses this ability to construct its fecal shield. Cleverly, the larva’s frass, the biological word for beetle crap, has concentrated toxic compounds from the plants that it eats such as alkaloids. This serves as a bitter deterrent to predators.

Friendly looking adult Tortoise Beetles look similar to Ladybugs;  entirely different from their eerie looking larvae.

striped tortoise beetle zerene30 iso200 f56 125th rayonx250

Adult Tortoise Beetle


Equipment used:
Olympus OM-D E-M5 II Camera
Olympus 60mm Macro Lens
Raynox 250 Macro Converter Lens
46-43mm Step Down Ring


Camera: Olympus OM-D E-M5 II
Lens: Olympus M.Zuiko 60mm f2.8 Macro
Filter: Raynox 250
Configuration: normal
Extension Tubes: no
Image Stack: 49 images
Stackware: Zerene
Aperture: f/4
Shutter Speed: 1/25th sec
ISO: 200
Light Source: Ambient cloudy
Stabilization: bean bag
Subject Size: 1 cm
Species: Tortoise Beetle (Cassidinae spp.)
Location: Fort Collins, Colorado

cassadine with frass insect macro photos 50 stack f28