Texas Beetle Information

Return to Texas Entomology - Compiled by Mike Quinn

Wild Olive Tortoise Beetle

Physonota alutacea Boheman, 1854

Family Chrysomelidae, Subfamily Cassidinae, Tribe Ischyrosonychini


Wild Olive Tortoise Beetle - Physonota alutacea

Wild Olive Tortoise Beetle - Physonota alutacea

(communal feeding larvae (left) and adult beetle (not shown to the same scale))


NABA Butterfly Park, Mission, Hidalgo Co., Texas
October 19, 2006 Patrick Coin

Sabal Palm Grove, Brownsville, 
Cameron Co., TX, 1997 (M Quinn)

Texas County Range Map for Physonota alutacea

Wild Olive Tortoise Beetle - Physonota alutacea

County Record Data from E.G. Riley, Dec. 2005

Range: Columbia north to south Texas.


In Texas: Cordia boissieri (Boraginaceae)
Common Names: Wild Olive, Mexican Olive, Anacahuita
Photos: Whole Tree, Flwr & Lvs - TAMU
County Range Map: USDA Plants Database

Other host plants south of Texas:

Cordia dentata - Mexico south to northern South America
Cordia inermis -
Western Mexico down through Central America
Cordia macrostachya -
restricted to Panama

Similar Species

About 40 species comprise this genus which occurs from northern South America to southern Canada, with its greatest species diversity centered in Mexico. (The genus needs revision.) Five species occur in the United States, but only Physonota alutacea occurs in Texas.

Physonota arizonae, occurs in Arizona and hosts on members of the aster family, Asteraceae.
Physonota helianthi,
occurs in the the northeastern U.S. and hosts on members of the aster family, Asteraceae.
Physonota unipunctata, occurs widely across eastern U.S. and hosts on members of the mint family, Lamiaceae.
Physonota calochroma floridensis, found in south Florida and hosts on Cordia sebestena, Boraginaceae family
Physonota pacifica
was described from "California" but is only known to occur in Baja California and Sonora.

Physonota attenuata, occurs as far north as Tamaulipas, Mexico and hosts on Cordia dentata and C. seleriana
Physonota ovalis
, occurs as far north as Nuevo Leon, Mexico. Host unknown. 


Biological Control of Weeds in Mauritius*

In addition to Opuntia, the other fully successful weed biocontrol program in Mauritius targeted the woody shrub, black sage (Cordia curassavica) which, by the 1930s, was covering large tracts of the island in dense scrub. The first agent introduced from the native range of the target weed in the Caribbean was a chrysomelid beetle, Physonota alutacea, in 1947. Despite over 30,000 individuals being released as adults, larvae, or eggs, the insect failed to establish, possibly because of interference from ants (Williams 1950, Fowler et al. 2000)

*Mauritius is a small (60 x 45 km) tropical island country in the Indian Ocean, 880 km east of Madagascar. Mauritius has been an active centre for biological control.

Photos: BugGuide.Net


Physonota alutacea Boheman

physo (G). Bellows; a bladder, air sac, bubble
=notum (G). The back
alut, =a (L). Leather

Biography: Carl Henrik Boheman (1796 - 1868) was a Swedish entomologist. - Wikipedia


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19 Oct 2009   Mike Quinn / entomike@gmail.com / Texas Entomology / Texas Beetle Information