Golden Bug
Golden Bug - Source: Kenneth Ng/Flickr


These fabulous little divas look alien AF, however they’re truly native to none other than—drumroll—yes, you guessed it (or you didn’t? It’s not Africa :p) North America. They’re notably plentiful in New Jersey and Florida. “They’re fairly spectacular in the daylight, and so brightly metallic your preliminary thoughts are, ‘This can’t be real’,” entomologist Sean McCann says.

Don’t fear: They are harmless to people despite their “exotic” and colorful looks. You’ll find them munching on sweet potatoes, bindweed, and leaves from different crops, McCann says.

Golden Tortoise Beetle
Source: Rob Swatski/CCBY

The golden tortoise beetle—generally known as goldenbugs—are somewhat of a mystery. In comparison with different bugs, we don’t actually know a lot about this species, according to the University of Florida.

What we do know, nevertheless, will fascinate and disgust you and make you feel all kinds of unusual things. Read on at your personal risk.

Golden shimmery colour – Source: Wikimedia

Let’s ease you in with a enjoyable fact: One thing that sets these little guys apart from other insects is their capability to change colours (like some octopuses and chameleons)

According to a Georgetown University study, their signature shimmery bodies can flip into an uninteresting brown, purple, shiny orange, or even green colour. This isn’t significantly unusual, apart from the fact that they can control their colour change.

Golden tortoise beetle changing colours
Golden tortoise beetle changing colours. Source: Chuck/CCBY

This colour change often occurs after they feel threatened (like when you decide to poke them) or during copulation.

Talking of copulation, one fortunate Georgetown University researcher in 1979 witnessed a bunch of goldenbugs have intercourse in petri dishes. For science.

A few of them would mate for around 15 minutes, which is a long time for a bug (and humans?). However some other bugs would mate for around 9 hours. NINE HOURS.

But here’s where things actually get bizarre: The larvae of goldenbugs are blessed with spines that develop on their, um, “posteriors.” These spines are eloquently referred to as “anal forks.” And anal forks are an exquisite, wonderful thing.

The larvae attaches their fecal matter and different sorts of nasty bits to the spines, which creates a type of poop shield that protects them from predators.

In case you’re curious to see this live (like we were), here’s a gif for all you sick minds (made from the youtube video here: )

Source: TerraNaturalist YouTube Video

To see the full video (much better quality), see below




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