Weekly Series
Nature Weekly
Short Notes on Nature Singapore

9 February 2014 | Red Beetle | Smilax setosa (Sarsaparilla Vine) |

Smilax setosa (Sarsaparilla Vine) is a very common climber in forested area. It has been labelled as a threat to forest vegetation. Due to its fast growth, it can smother slower growing trees. In addition, the weight of a huge matured colony of the climber clinging onto a tree can cause the tree to fall under strong wind condition.

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Earlier this week, I chance upon a red beetle that feed on this climber. Although I had seen this beetle 3 years back, I was not able to pinpoint the host plant as the past encounters were all individual beetle that was not feeding. This time round, I found 5 of them on a branch of the climber and they were feasting on its young leaves. Up to this point, I am still not able to find the exact name of the beetle though I suspect it to be a Lilioceris species.

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Besides the red beetle, I had seen a colony of hairy caterpillar feeding on this climber back in March 2012. From their appearance, they are likely to be moth caterpillars.

Update: 23 February 2014

I spotted the caterpillars on this vine again, the second time since 2012. Several of them were feeding on the matured leaves of a hanging branch. They had long and sparse while hairs all over their bodies.

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