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Leafy Abode: Newly Discovered Beetle Makes Shelter with Feces

Leaf-Hole Shelter by Orthaltica terminalia
This image shows a leaf-hole shelter of the new species Orthaltica terminalia on the leaf of a kindal tree. (Image credit: Kaniyarikkal Divakaran Prathapan)

A new species of leaf beetle discovered in the Western Ghats Mountains in India uses its own feces to modify shelters in leaves. The Orthaltica terminalia — named after their host trees found in jungles of the Western Ghats Mountains — is the size of a pinhead and makes what scientists call "leaf hole shelters." Using their fecal pellets, the beetles create little partitions or walls in holes created by other insects within leaves of their host plants.

The newfound species, shown here on the leaf of a kindal tree (Terminalia paniculata), was described in September in the journal ZooKeys.

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Nina Sen
Nina Sen is a frequent contributor to Live Science’s Life’s Little Mysteries series: an exploration and explanation of our world’s phenomena, both natural and man-made. She also writes astronomy photo stories for Live Science's sister site Space.com.