They get their name from the appearance of the adult. Their wing covers are transparent and flare out around the edges looking like a tortoise or turtle shell. The head also has a helmet-like covering.
This shape helps to protect the beetles from predators. They can lower their bodies flush against a surface protecting their legs, head and bodies from predators, particularly ants.
Although they look like lady beetles, they are not closely related.
Their colouring can change from shiny gold to reddish brown when disturbed
The larvae are quite difficult to see as they camouflage themselves, matching the colour of the leaves that they are feeding on. They are oval- shaped and flat with spikey filaments sticking out around their bodies. An interesting feature is what appears to be pincers at the rear of their abdomen (called an anal fork). These actually act like forks holding the discarded skins of each moult that it goes through and also their faeces (poo). They use this like a club when they are threatened.
Adult size: 4-5mm