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Photo#164597
Leaf Beetle - Murgantia histrionica

Leaf Beetle - Murgantia histrionica
Reseda, Los Angeles County, California, USA
January 6, 2008
Size: 8 mm (5/16 inch)
This beetle seems to like to stay mostly on the leaves of a hybiscus plant.

the bug
Yes this is a Harlequin bug also called fire bug.

Not a beetle
This is a true bug, probably the Harlequin bug, Murgantia histrionica:


It's good to see someone else from my neck of the woods- welcome to BugGuide!

 
Thanks so much for identifying this "bug"!
I took a look at another post, and the identity applied to that bug. It does look exactly like the one I posted.

http://bugguide.net/node/view/157206

Not being an entimologist, it does appear that the bug I posted does seem a little different than the one identified. Perhaps that is close enough. (Yes??) Obviously insects evolve a little differently depending on how far they are separated geographically.

According to the following:

http://creatures.ifas.ufl.edu/veg/leaf/harlequin_damage.htm

this bug can do quite a lot of damage, which my plants have been experiencing.

 
I'm not an entomologist either
That's why I said "probably". We have experts here who can confirm whether it really is what we think it is.

On a general note, There's lots of variation in the real world, with some of it due to genetics, and some due to environment. Any species or other taxonomic classification is made up of populations of individuals that vary both randomly and according to patterns.

It takes someone who's studied the variation to know which variations mean anything to identification, and how much difference is enough to put one individual in a different classification from another. That's what taxonomists do.

They publish the results so that other scientists (in this case, other entomologists) know what to look for in order to identify the organisms the taxonomists have studied.

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