A Word from the RALF (December 2023)
The arrival of summer in the Riverina region of Australia is marked not just by rising temperatures but also by the dazzling appearance of Christmas Beetles. These metallic wonders grace the landscape with their vibrant hues and fascinating behaviours.
What are Christmas Beetles?
Christmas Beetles are a festive addition to nature, with their golden brown or green colors. As you travel north in Australia, their colors become even more impressive, with violet hues that resemble opals. These beetles have clubbed antennae and spiky legs, and grow to around 3 centimeters in length. There are around 35 different types of Christmas Beetle found in Australia, each with its charm.
Where are Christmas Beetles found?
Christmas Beetles thrive in woodlands but avoid deserts. These beetles are most active during the Christmas season and warmer months of December and January, hence their name. Although they feed on eucalyptus leaves, adult Christmas Beetles are not typically a pest in most home gardens. With over 35 different species of Christmas Beetles, the most common types are Anoplognathus chloropyrus and Anoplognathus montanus. They can be found throughout Australia, except for desert areas, with the highest density in the eastern regions.
What are the characteristics of Christmas Beetles?
Although they may get disoriented around bright lights during hot summer nights, Christmas Beetles are charming creatures to observe. They grow from C-shaped grubs, which spend a year underground. Thunderstorms can prompt their emergence, while dry conditions may limit their appearance. Adult Christmas Beetles prefer the top leaves of Eucalyptus trees. Preserving native eucalypts and planting them in your garden ensures a feast for these enchanting insects. Although they may seem a bit awkward after a night of flying, Christmas Beetles pose no harm.
The Christmas Beetle Count
There has been a decline in Christmas Beetle sightings, raising concerns about their population. The Christmas Beetle Count aims to monitor the Christmas Beetle’s population by enlisting the public’s assistance. By using the Australian Museum’s Xmas Beetle ID Guide app, individuals can contribute to this project by accurately identifying and documenting Christmas Beetles. This citizen science initiative will help uncover if and why Christmas Beetle numbers are dwindling.
As we enjoy the festive season, let’s not forget the enchanting Christmas Beetles that add color and life to our surroundings. Their vibrant colors and fascinating behaviors make them an essential part of Australia’s summer landscape. By participating in the Christmas Beetle Count, we can contribute to the conservation of these delightful insects and ensure that future generations can marvel at their beauty.
This article was written by Jade Auldist. Jade is the Regional Agriculture Landcare Facilitator (RALF) for the Riverina region. Her role supports farmers, industry and community groups (including Landcare Groups) to adopt new and innovative sustainable agriculture practices.
For further information on this article, please contact Jade at firstname.lastname@example.org.