Two new species of leaf beetles repurposes existing shelters

Sept. 27, 2013 at 4:52 PM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 27 (UPI) -- Two new species of opportunistic shelter-using leaf beetles that repurpose existing shelters has been found in western India, researchers said.

The researchers said they found the two closely related and previously unknown species of tiny southern Indian leaf beetles and their creative ways of modifying their shelter in their article published Friday in the open-access journal ZooKeys.

The leaf beetles -- slightly larger than a pinhead -- modify the holes in leaves of their host plants made by other beetles into new living quarters, U.S. Agriculture Department Research Entomologist Alexander Konstantinov said of his research.

The beetles also use artificially made holes to build hideouts called "leaf hole shelters," the research team said. When the shape and size of the hole aren't aligned with the beetles' requirements, they resized the hole by partitioning with a wall constructed with their feces.

The researchers described the use of feces by adult leaf beetles for construction of shelters for the first time in their research.

The two new southern Indian species were named Orthaltica eugenia and Orthaltica terminalia after their host trees, common in jungles of the western Ghats Mountains.

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