The Rainbow Leaf Beetle, also popular as the Snowdon Beetle, forms a rather dazzlingly colorful species of Eurasian leaf beetle. They inhabit areas of montane grasslands from Norway to northern Italy, from Ussuri in the east, and also Wales in the west.
They thrive on base-rich screes and also lay their eggs on wild grasses such as Browntop and sheep fescue. However, the Rainbow Leaf Beetle mostly feeds on the abundant wild thyme and appears to prefer the flowers to the leaves.
The Snowdon beetle averages roughly 0.22-0.39 in (5-10 mm) in length. The forewing has red, gold, green and blue stripes.
The female Chrysolina cerealis typically grow larger than males which remains a typical sexually dimorphic characteristic.
Rainbow Leaf Beetle Distribution and Habitat
The incredible rainbow leaf Beetle rarely gets seen, and their numbers appear to be extremely minimal. Numerous searches continue to be ongoing to ascertain how many currently exist. However, scientists only know of a few surviving populations.
Researchers admit that the possibility exists that the numbers rank as greater than currently known. The insects remain rather reclusive, making them difficult to locate. Within the United Kingdom, the Rainbow Leaf Beetle currently only seems to exist in Caernarfonshire, Wales.
Since 1980, the Chrysolina cerealis has also appeared on a mountain named Snowdon, hence their other common name.
Elsewhere the species lives in northern, central and southern Europe in all mountainous grassland areas, which generally occur at altitudes of 2,067 ft (630 m) above sea level.
Populations generally keep to areas where flushing produces base-rich grassland characterized by an abundance of wild thyme in the sward.