The first time that I met this beetle was in September 2011, on the leaf of a rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis). At that time, it was to me just another interesting beetle seen on a field trip. A month later, when I saw it for the second time on an air potato tuber at a different location, I was thrilled because now I know the diet of this beetle. When I went back the location where I spotted the first beetle, indeed, air potato vine was also abundant there.
As the story goes, there was a leaf beetle found in Nepal that feed on air potato vine. This finding has created excitement in the United States (USA) where air potato vine is considered an invasive plant. The quest to identify this beetle resulted in a publication in 2011 in the journal ZooKeys that concluded the beetle is Lilioceris cheni. However, there was no picture of the beetle included in the article.
Based on the description in the Environmental Assessment (February 2011) by U.S. Department of Agriculture on the release of this beetle in the field, the beetle was described as one having "a shiny patent leather black color except for its tan/light orange or bright red wing covers" (page 3). This description fits rather well with the beetle that I had seen.
Although the beetle was discovered in Nepal, I was surprised not to find a single picture of this beetle in the Internet. When I last checked on July 2012, still no picture.
1. Tishechkin, A., A. Konstantinov, S. Bista, R. Pemberton & T. Center, 2011. Review of the continental Oriental species of Lilioceris Reitter (Coleoptera, Chrysomelidae, Criocerinae) closely related to Lilioceris impressa (F.) ZooKeys, 103: 63-83.
2. Pemberton, R. W. and G. L. Witkus, 2010. Laboratory host range testing of Lilioceris sp. nearimpressa (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) - a potential biological control agent of air potato, Dioscorea bulbifera (Dioscoreaceae). Biocontrol Science and Technology, 20: 6, 567-587.