Turns out there are several small, shiny blue-black beetles out there that devour leaves. The Blue or Cobalt Milkweed beetle, the Grape Flea beetle, and the imported Willow Leaf Beetle, which is what I think this is. Plagiodera versicolor.These shiny critters were not on willow leaves, as far as I could tell, but along the same stretch of road there were some willows, and they had these amazing cone galls on them:Created by a gall insect, or rather, the plant’s response to the insect larva, whose chemistry causes the plant to grow abnormally. Rebecca in the Woods first turned me onto this variety of gall. Check out some of my other adventures in the weird and wonderful world of galls.
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This work by Matthew Wills is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.