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; class Insecta, order Coleoptera)

Family of rounded, convex, usually shiny beetles, coloured red, black, or yellow, with a pattern of spots or lines. The head is largely covered by the pronotum. The antennae are short, and clubbed. Larvae are very active, with well-developed legs, and often grey with a pattern of spots. Some are covered with spines, or a white, waxy coat. If provoked, adults and larvae exhibit reflex bleeding, producing a sticky orange fluid from ‘knees’ or spines: presumably this has a deterrent effect. Economically they are very important, and are used in biological control. The majority feed on aphids and plant pests, some are fungus feeders, and others (e.g. Epilachna varivestis, the Mexican bean beetle) are phytophagous and attack crop plants. There are 5000 species.

Subjects: Zoology and Animal Sciences.

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