Leaf beetles are able to attach to a variety of substrates of different rigidity. In our study, traction experiments with adult dock beetles Gastrophysa viridula and Colorado potato beetles Leptinotarsa decemlineata were carried out to investigate the influence of smooth, non‐structured surfaces, having different stiffness, on beetle attachment. The beetles attached and pulled on stiff, hydrophilic and hydrophobic glass, as well as on stiff and soft hydrophobic polydimethyl-siloxane. The observed differences in safety factors (force/body weight) are assumed to be mainly caused by combined effects of body weight and tarsal dimensions. The multifunctional leaf beetle tarsal attachment system is suitable for operating successfully in a complex world of highly variable, hierarchical and gradient materials, including differently stiff, (anti‐)adhesive and variably structured substrates.