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Xmas in July

July 31, 2015

DH's Xmas beetleBe it spiders, flatworms or beetles, David H. from Flowerdale regularly comes up with some interesting photos for this blog. This gorgeous beetle is a good example. It’s a Christmas beetle, a common name associated with Australian native beetles in the genus Anoplognathus which has 35 species.

Named for its abundance around Christmas time, it seems to us unusual to find an adult beetle in July, at least in our neck of the woods – in northern parts of Australia they do become active earlier in the year than in Victoria. Here they normally live underground in larval form at this time of year, probably pupating near the surface by now, prior to emerging in Spring as adults. Perhaps recent rains after a dry spell triggered this one’s emergence – or is it a manifestation of climate change?

The larvae feed mainly on grass roots, whereas the adult beetles feed on eucalypt leaves and have been associated with severe localised defoliation of trees during population explosions in favourable years.

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