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More on the Fireblight Beetle

September 20, 2012
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The Fireblight Beetle (Peltoschema orphana) is a native beetle and their larvae are part of the natural succession of the forests as they recover from the 2009 fires and a natural way of thinning out dense stands of wattles. Although they can also be seen in un-burnt roadside areas close to Yea on the Whittlesea-Yea Road.

They have previously been recorded severely impacting on Silver and Black Wattles in plantations in Tasmania. Where only a small portion of the wattles have been observed to recover.

Hopefully many birds, mammals and other insects are able to feed on the grubs. It would be interesting to hear any observations of wildlife seen feeding on the grubs or beetles.

This article below was from the The Courier-Mail Saturday 24 February 1934.

THE BÜSHLOVER By “FABIAN”

Fireblight

THE wattles seem to me the most unfortunate trees in the bush as far as parasites are concerned. A young healthy wattle Is a lovely thing, its foliage the softest and most delicate of all, but I do not think I have ever yet seen even a half grown one not disfigured by insect pests.

During a recent walk I came on a patch of small wattles in a little hollow. All were ugly, untidy, sickly, doomed, with very few leaves left, as though a fire had recently been through them.

On a close approach I saw that they were simply swarming with dirty looking little greenish grubs, and one had to come up close to see these at all. They were the larvae of the fireblight beetle (Paropsis orphana).

They looked like tiny twigs or leaves, but birds would soon see them, and I concluded that they must be unpalatable and therefore left alone. They had simply destroyed this little grove by eating the leaves.

I do not know whether what is called fireblight among orchard trees, is a disease or just the result of damage by insects, but this particular beetle is well named.

It lays its eggs by the thousand on wattles, and the hatched grubs do the rest.

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