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Family of beetles whose members occur in a great variety of shapes and sizes, from 1.5 to 22 mm, but usually they are robust, compact beetles with smooth, brightly coloured, or metallic elytra. Larvae are grub-like, often coloured, and have short legs; all are plant feeders. Tortoise beetles have expanded sides to the body, giving a flat, shell-like appearance; the larvae conceal themselves with cast skins and faeces. Many chrysomelids are pests. Flea beetles, adults and larvae, ‘graze’ on upper leaf surfaces; adults, which have enlarged hind femora (see femur), are able to spring. Larval juices of some tropical species (poison beetles) are used to tip arrows by Kalahari Bushmen. There are 20 000 species.

Subjects: Zoology and Animal Sciences.

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