The thistle-feeding tortoise beetle Cassida vibex (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) is widespread in the Palearctic region. In Japan, this species has been recorded only from the largest island, Honshu. Here we report the occurrence of this species on Hokkaido, the most northern main island of Japan, along with detailed distributional records from the southwestern part of the island (southern Oshima Peninsula) and information on host plants. We also present the results of laboratory experiments on adult feeding preference and larval developmental performance to determine the specificity of C. vibex for four thistle species (Cirsium grayanum, Cir. alpicola, Cir. yezoense and Cir. aomorense; Asteraceae) common in southwestern Hokkaido. Cassida vibex was detected at only four sites among 97 sites investigated on the Oshima Peninsula, in strong contrast to the common occurrence of the congeneric thistle feeder C. rubiginosa (74 of 97 sites). Cassida vibex was found mainly on Cir. alpicola in the wild, but adult beetles showed no feeding preference for this or three other thistle species when given a choice in the laboratory. Larval performance of C. vibex was similar on Cir. alpicola, Cir. yezoense and Cir. aomorense but significantly lower on Cir. grayanum. Since Cir. alpicola often forms large clumps of individual plants, whereas Cir. yezoense and Cir. aomorense are scattered in their habitats, and C. vibex was collected only at sites where there were dense patches of Cir. alpicola, we postulate that the persistence of C. vibex is possible only where a substantial amount of suitable host plants is available.