coreopsis beetle

(Calligrapha californica)

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List

not listed


NNR - Unranked


not listed

coreopsis beetle
Photo by Babette Kis

California calligraphy leaf beetle is a common, small, broad-bodied leaf beetle. It occurs in the United States and southern Canada. In the U.S. there are three distinctly separated populations: east of the Great Plains, the Pacific Northwest, and Wyoming and Colorado. It is common in Minnesota.

Adults are active from April to August. They feed on the leaves of beggarticks (Bidens spp.), coreopsis (Coreopsis spp.), and ragweed (Ambrosia spp.).

Adults are 316 to ¼ (5.0 to 6.5 mm) in length. The body is elongated-oval when viewed from above and somewhat convex when viewed from the side.

The head is black. It is inserted into the first segment of the thorax and is only partly visible from above. The mouthparts are directed downward. The antennae are black and have 11 segments. They are weakly expanded beyond the fifth segment, gradually enlarged as they approach the tip. The eyes are not notched.

The exoskeletal plate covering the first segment of the thorax (pronotum) is rectangular and wider than the head. It is pale at the front, rear, and lateral margins, with an irregular black spot of variable size in the middle. The sides of the thorax are not thickened.

The hardened wing covers (elytra) are beige and long, entirely covering the abdomen. Each elytron has a black longitudinal stripe in the inner margin (sutural stripe) and a similar stripe in the middle (lateral stripe). The lateral stripe is not notched or is only weekly notched in the middle.

The legs are black. The last part of each leg (tarsus), corresponding to the foot, has five segments. The fourth segment is very short and is concealed within the broadened tip of the third segment, making the tarsus appear to have only four segments. There is a pair of claws at the tip of the tarsus on each leg. The claws are equal in size and are broadly separated at the base. They are not cleft.


The above description refers to Calligrapha californica coreopsivora, the only subspecies that occurs in Minnesota.



Total length: 316 to ¼ (5.0 to 6.5 mm)


Similar Species





April to August





Life Cycle



Larva Food



Adult Food

Leaves of beggarticks (Bidens spp.) and possibly other plants in the Aster (Asteraceae) family


Distribution Map



24, 27, 29, 30, 82, 83.






Chrysomelidae (leaf beetles)


Chrysomelinae (broad-bodied leaf beetles)






Calligrapha (calligrapher beetles)




Subordinate Taxa

coreopsis beetle (Calligrapha californica californica)

coreopsis leaf beetle (Calligrapha californica coreopsivora)



Calligrapha coreopsivora

Calligrapha elegans

Chrysomela elegans


Common Names

coreopsis leaf beetle

coreopsis beetle

tickseed leaf beetle











The hardened or leathery forewings of beetles used to protect the fragile hindwings, which are used for flying. Singular: elytron.



The exoskeletal plate on the upper side of the first segment of the thorax of an insect.



On insects, the last two to five subdivisions of the leg, attached to the tibia; the foot. On spiders, the last segment of the leg. Plural: tarsi.





Visitor Photos

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Mike Poeppe

coreopsis beetle and two-spotted grass bug  


Babette Kis

coreopsis beetle  


Calligrapha californica

Calligrapha californica, photo taken July 6, 2023 at Barnes Prairie, Racine Co., WI. Photos











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Other Videos

Coreopsis Beetle
Hamilton Native Outpost


Aug 5, 2022

These can really be a prevelant problem in plantings where there are a large quantity of coreopsis plants, including: Grand Coreopsis, Plains Coreopsis, and Tickseed/Lanceleaf Coreopsis, however, insects like this are crutial to the food chain, especially to grassland birds including quail, turkey, songbirds, and prairie chicken.

Leaf Beetle - Calligrapha californica coreopsivora, Insect that eats Coreopsis Plants.



Visitor Sightings

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Mike Poeppe
early June 2024

Location: near Houston, MN

coreopsis beetle and two-spotted grass bug
Babette Kis

Location: Barnes Prairie, Racine Co., WI

Calligrapha californica, photo taken July 6, 2023 at Barnes Prairie, Racine Co., WI.

coreopsis beetle Sightings






Created: 1/2/2024

Last Updated:

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