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Leaf beetles

  • Adult eucalyptus leaf beetle
    Ecualyptus tortoise beetle (Paropsis atomaria).
  • Eggs of the eucalyptus leaf beetle
    Distinctive arrangement of the eucalyptus tortoise beetle eggs ( Paropsis atomaria).
  • Larvae of  the northern eucalyptus leaf beetle (Paropsisterna cloelia)
    Larvae of the northern eucalyptus leaf beetle (Paropsisterna cloelia).

General information

The paropsine leaf beetles (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) include the eucalyptus tortoise beetles (Paropsis) and eucalyptus leaf beetles (Paropsisterna) and their relatives. Larvae feeding on foliage can severely defoliate the crown. Repeated defoliations can have a significant impact on tree growth. In northern New South Wales and south east Queensland there are up to four generations a year, causing at least three peaks in defoliation.

Scientific name

Paropsis atomaria and Paropsisterna cloelia

  • adult chrysomelid beetles may look like ladybirds, but with longer antennae; it is important to distinguish between the two because ladybirds are beneficial insects
  • size ranges from about 4 mm to 15 mm long
  • many species are metallic, pink, yellow, beige or red
  • some adults have finely patterned elytra (wing covers); some of these are strongly patterned with red and black
  • larvae have well developed dark heads and three pairs of legs, most are pale, some with dark stripes along the body
  • larvae feed on the soft, young growth in the crowns, giving a characteristic 'broom top' appearance
  • scalloped leaf edges indicate adult leaf beetles feeding
  • widely distributed throughout Queensland and south-eastern Australia
  • Paropsis atomaria is common and widely distributed throughout South East Queensland and further south, while Paropsisterna cloelia is found in South East Queensland and northern Queensland
  • affect trees under three years old
  • tree species susceptible to Paropsis atomaria:
    • Gympie messmate
    • blackbutt
    • spotted gum
    • Dunn's white gum
  • tree species susceptible to Paropsisterna cloelia:
    • rose gum and hybrids
    • Dunn's white gum
  • crowns can be defoliated by gregariously feeding larvae and develop a characteristic 'broom top' appearance
  • repeated defoliation affects growth
  • high densities of larvae can cause a temporary loss of apical dominance and 'bushing' in the upper crown
  • adult feeding damage is identified by 'scalloped' leaf edges.


Last updated 15 October 2012