Christmas beetles have arrived.
Christmas beetles have arrived. Queensland Museum

It's beginning to look like xmas

IF YOU suddenly feel something spiky crawl down your shirt tonight, or squeak loudly into your hair, don’t panic – chances are it’s just a beautiful shiny Christmas beetle.

And it may be looking to you to help it make babies.

Christmas beetles, also known as anoplognathus, are on the wing on the Fraser Coast because of the recent rain – and they’re particularly grateful for the wet because if it hadn’t come this month they would have died in the soil, unable to burrow to the surface and sprout wings.

If your sparkling swimming pool or mozzie lamps are acting as a night magnet to them, that, says the Queensland Museum’s Christine Lambkin, is because they’re searching for a partner.

They can fly several kilometres to get lucky.

“Christmas beetles belong to the scarab family. Their relatives include dung, cane and rhinoceros beetles.

“There are 35 species of Christmas beetles. They can be green or black but most are golden brown, although in other parts of Australia they come in pink, purple, yellow and everything in between.”

The curator of entomology says the 15mm to 40mm size beetles live “for months rather than years” and after mating females lay 25 to 30 eggs. The grub is white and crescent-shaped. They can live in lawns, pastures and compost heaps where they feed on roots. In late winter-early spring fully-grown larvae move close to the surface and hollow out a chamber in which they pupate. Pupation lasts several weeks.

“They look very strange, bizarre,” Dr Lambkin said.

“The adults like eucalypt trees and are often blamed for causing die back. They defoliate the trees because they are leaf feeders.”

Dr Lambkin said that in an exciting discovery two new species of Christmas beetles had recently been found in the Cooloola region.

“For anyone wanting to see an amazing display of these beetles, the Queensland Museum is putting on a display from February 13 for six months from the collection of the Butterfly Man of Kuranda, FP Dodd, and there will be 1500 specimens included.”

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