As you may know, I specialise in leaf beetles (Chrysomelidae) and quite often get sent specimens to identify as I run the national recording scheme for this family. These are usually adults, but now and again juvenile stages which are more difficult, but also useful reference material, especially as I (eventually) intend to write a guide to their identification. Some months ago I was sent some larvae preserved in alcohol to see if I could confirm whether they were Chrysolina marginata. It took me a while to find the time for this (it's been a busy year), but here's the process.
|Tube of preserved larvae.|
|Contents of the tube. The larvae are of different stages (instars) and the largest ones are around 7-8mm long. The anal proleg is visible (especially in the specimen top right) and this is a feature of Chrysolina.|
|Side view of one of the larger larvae. The blue lines show the joints between segments. The green lines show sclerites (hardened patches) arranged in irregular rows.|
|The end of one of the legs, showing the tarsal claw. The inset shows that the outline (solid) has no protrusion at the base. This is a feature of C. marginata with some other species having a protrusion (dotted line).|
So, the combination of features, along with the keys in Marshall (1979) and Zaitsev & Medvedev (2009) confirms that these larvae are C. marginata - easier than larval identification often is, and provides information that is due to be used in a report later this year.
Marshall, J.E. (1979). The larvae of the British species of Chrysolina (Chrysomelidae). Systematic Entomology 4: 409-417.
Zaitsev, Y. M. & Medvedev, L.N. (2009). Larvae of Leaf-beetles of Russia. KMK Scientific Press, Moscow. [In Russian]