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In DepthNature FeaturesEnvironment and Nature

Beetles are out and about presently of 12 months and this summer time beetle information consists of info and photos to determine and get to know them higher.

By Abbie Thomas


Charming transverse ladybird rests on a lolly pink petal (Supply: Keith Energy /)


Most grownup beetles emerge in summer time because the climate warms up and the summer time storms deliver loads of rain. Earlier than this, some spend as much as a number of years within the type of an enormous fats grub dwelling inside tree trunks or in burrows. Some witchetty grubs, for instance, are the larvae of longicorn beetles which reside inside mallee tree trunks.

Beetles belong to the Class Insecta, and are probably the most ample of all bugs.

The Sydney space alone has 1500 species of beetle, whereas Australia might have as much as 80,000, many not but described. The bugs are divided into these which change kind as they mature (full metamorphosis), and people which hatch out as miniature adults.

Beetles, together with ants, wasps and butterflies metamorphose fully, whereas bugs and aphids don’t.

You will discover most beetles are round till February, throughout which era they mate, lay eggs after which die. Nevertheless, some beetles, such because the spectacular Rhinoceros beetle from Queensland survive within the grownup kind for as much as a 12 months.

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Busy beetles

Beetles have a serious function to play in sustaining the well being of Australia’s ecosystems — breaking down leaves, wooden and animal stays. They maintain the vitamins turning over and each species has a special function to play. Some beetles — each native and launched — are main pests of crops, gardens and tree plantations, whereas others prey on insect pests and maintain their numbers down.

You would possibly suppose a beetle is only a beetle, however the extra you look, the extra you realise what a tremendous number of measurement, form, color and performance they’ve. We hope this information shall be helpful for recognising probably the most typically seen beetles, the place they hang around, what job they do within the ecosystem, and why they’re energetic now.

The primary teams of beetles we have now featured are scarabs (together with Christmas beetles and rhinoceros beetles), fireflies, jewel beetles, water beetles, weevils and carabs (floor beetles such because the inexperienced carab beetle). We’ve got chosen these as a result of representatives from every group could be present in most elements of Australia.

It is also value looking for quite a lot of different forms of beetles which must be out and about in the mean time. These embrace longicorns, girl beetles, rove beetles, dung and carrion beetles, click on beetles, leaf chewers and chafers.


Truth file:

When: December – February

The place: Australia vast

Different information: Some bugs are actually protected so it’s greatest to not accumulate them in case you are undecided. The adults typically solely reside a couple of weeks and that is the time once they mate.

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Discovering beetles

Whereas there are many beetles round in the mean time, they will nonetheless be laborious to identify. Among the greatest locations to search out beetles embrace:

  • Underneath lights at night time, particularly round verandas, bathroom blocks, service stations, tennis courts, beneath avenue lights and brightly lit areas. The beetles could possibly be flying close to the sunshine or might have landed on the bottom.
  • On the bottom or flying round after a rain storm. Many beetles relaxation whereas it is dry, then enterprise forth after rain to feed on scrumptious new plant development.
  • Eucalypt or wattle blossom, the place they feed and mate
  • Inside rotting dung or carcasses.

Some bugs are actually protected so it is best to not accumulate them in case you are undecided. The adults typically solely reside a couple of weeks and that is the time once they mate.

Beetle subject information


Christmas beetle(Supply: Peter Chew)

Christmas beetles

For those who out of the blue really feel one thing spiky crawl down your shirt or buzz loudly into your hair, chances are high it is a Christmas beetle. Christmas beetles (Anoplognathus) vary from 15 – 40 mm in measurement and belong to the Scarab household (over 3000 species in Australia), which additionally consists of flower and cock chafers, and fiddle beetles.

What to search for: Largely energetic at night time, Christmas beetles could be seen flying round lights. They are often inexperienced or black, however most are golden brown. Grownup Christmas beetles are rising from now by way of till February and may strip complete bushes to a ragged mess in a feeding frenzy. These within the northern elements of Australia are inclined to grow to be energetic sooner than these additional to the south. The grub is crescent-shaped with a pale reddish brown head and three pairs of legs. They are often dug up from lawns and pastures the place they feed on roots.

The place to search out them: There are 35 species of Christmas beetles proper throughout Australia, however most want the moister east and south easterly areas, particularly close to the coast. Eight species happen in Sydney.

Species notes: Geoff Monteith who’s curator of the insect assortment on the Queensland Museum says Christmas beetles have a foul fame for inflicting dieback (untimely dying of bushes), which they do not fully deserve. Farming and clearing up to now 200 years has radically modified the setting, creating an unnatural beetle inhabitants growth. The place as soon as solely small areas of grassland existed (the principle feeding grounds for beetle larvae) now there are huge areas of grazing land. Conversely, the eucalyptus forests the place grownup beetles feed have shrunk since European settlement. This has led to beetles overgrazing eucalyptus bushes – with remoted bushes notably susceptible. On the similar time, Christmas beetle numbers across the Sydney space have declined during the last 30 years, because the grassy woodland areas on which they feed get used up for housing.


Rhinoceros beetle(Supply: Keith Energy)

Rhinoceros beetle

The Rhinoceros beetle, Xylotrupes ulysses australicus grows as much as 60mm and is among the most spectacular beetles in Australia. It is certainly one of over 200 species within the group, others of which could be discovered dwelling as far south as Tasmania and thru into Western Australia. Together with Christmas and dung beetles, rhinoceros beetles belong to the Scarab household.

What to search for: The Rhinoceros beetle, Xylotrupes ulysses australicus grows as much as 60mm and is among the most spectacular beetles in Australia. It is certainly one of over 200 species within the group, others of which could be discovered dwelling as far south as Tasmania and thru into Western Australia. Together with Christmas and dung beetles, rhinoceros beetles belong to the Scarab household.

The place to search out them: Rhinoceros beetles are robust flyers. They’re interested in lights at night time, and may typically be discovered mendacity beneath avenue lights or in petrol stations.

Species notes: From late December by way of to February, the males mixture in large lots on poinsiana bushes within the suburbs of Brisbane – maybe one in each 100 bushes shall be focused. Because the males do battle and attempt to push each-other off the department, they scare their opponents by making loud hissing squeaks.


Fireflies (Supply: European Bodily Society)


Regardless of their identify, these magical animals are literally flying beetles, and belong to the household Lampyridae (25 species). To make issues extra complicated, one other bioluminescent insect, the glow worm, is just not a worm in any respect however really a kind of fly!

What to search for: For sure, fireflies are nocturnal. Aside from the robust flashing mild, the grownup beetles which develop as much as 9 mm lengthy can be distinguished by their smooth flattened physique, very giant eyes and brief antennae. Atyphella lychnus – the Blue Mountains Firefly is the one firefly species within the Sydney space.

The place to search out them: Fireflies reside from Sydney northwards to the tropical north, and like moist areas reminiscent of rainforests and mangroves.

Species notes: In keeping with the Environmental Safety Company, the firefly’s blinking mild comes from segments on the underside of the stomach. A chemical course of is triggered by air coming in, and the chemical compounds react to the presence of oxygen with a blaze of sunshine. The oxygen is quickly exhausted, however the course of is shortly recharged for the subsequent burst — therefore the flashing impact. Males are the principle flashers, cruising at night time in the hunt for a mate. Females give an answering blink. Firefly larvae and pupae are additionally barely luminous. The larvae feed on snails, however the adults most likely do not feed in any respect. When many people of some tropical species of firefly collect in bushes and bushes, they synchronise their flashes right into a spectacular mild present that will additionally serve to confuse potential predators.


Jewel beetle (Supply: David Nelson)

Jewel beetle

Jewel beetles belong to the Buprestidae, a big group of beetles with over 1200 Australian species. With their spectacular colors and metallic sheen, these bugs are one of the seen and engaging of all of the bugs and are very talked-about with collectors.

What to search for: These bugs have an extended oval formed physique with very giant eyes and vibrant colouration. There are a lot of species, starting from 3-40 mm lengthy. They are often seen feeding on and flying round flowers in the course of the day, and if you happen to’re driving by way of an space with a lot of flowering natives, they could splatter towards the windscreen. Within the wheat belt of Western Australia, jewel beetles are so ample that as much as 20 completely different species could be discovered feeding and mating on the identical eucalypt tree.

The place to search out them: Jewel beetles reside in most elements of Australia, inhabiting a variety of habitats from the northern rain forests and the temperate woodlands of the Coastal Ranges to the deserts of Western and Central Australia.

Species notes: One of the vital spectacular but additionally weird jewel beetles is Julodimorpha bakewelli from Western Australia. Within the early Nineteen Eighties, researchers found that the way forward for this species could possibly be in danger as a result of the males had been attempting to mate with beer bottles. The hapless romeos would come across beer bottles thrown from automotive home windows on the aspect of the highway and crawl everywhere in the mistaken lover, leaving the females excessive and dry. Researchers imagine the males are interested in glass bumps on the underside of the bottle which refract mild and, within the eyes of the courting male, resemble feminine beetles. On different continents, jewel beetles have been utilized in clothes, ornamental packing containers, sculptures and even spiritual shrines.

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Water beetle (Supply: Australian Museum)

Water beetle

There are three completely different teams of beetles that reside within the water: predacious diving beetles, whirligigs and water beetles. Predacious beetles are easy and oval, with enlarged hind legs. They breathe on the floor by turning the wrong way up and exposing their stomach to suck up air. Whirligigs, reminiscent of Macrogyrus striolatus (as much as 18mm) from the Sydney area, are named after their behavior of swimming in circles on water. Their center and hind legs are modified to kind brief ‘oars’, whereas their eyes are break up to provide each underwater and above-water imaginative and prescient. If a predator reminiscent of a chicken approaches from above, the beetle dives beneath. If a predator reminiscent of a fish approaches from under, the beetle seeks shelter on the water’s edge. The third group, the true water beetles (about 180 species), have club-like antennae and are vegetarian. Many different non-beetle bugs reside in water, reminiscent of water bugs and dragonfly nymphs.

What to search for: Totally different species reside at completely different water depths, and could also be noticed wherever from high to backside. Despite the fact that water beetles spend quite a lot of time within the water, they’re additionally robust fliers, and sometimes swarm round lights at night time.

The place to search out them: Water-dwelling beetles are discovered all through Australia.

Species notes: In South Australia, the diving beetle Rahntus suuturalis could be very energetic flying round presently of the 12 months. This 15 millimetre-long beetle, which can also be frequent within the outback, is brown with mottled black spots. It typically leaves the water at night time in swarms, and large numbers of beetles can find yourself in yard swimming swimming pools. One other predacious diver, the three-punctured Diving Beetle Cybister tripunctatus, has a deadly looking approach typical of the group. This species is discovered all through Australia (besides the south coast and Tasmania) and the adults, which develop as much as 27 millimetres, fly nice distances at night time trying to find water. The prey of the adults embrace bugs, tadpoles and even small fish. The larvae are simply as fearsome and seize their prey with piercing, grooved jaws by way of which they inject liquefying digestive juices. The prey ‘soup’ is then sucked up by way of the grooved jaws. The grownup beetles have a robust defensive chemical that they launch to stun close by fish.


Weevil (Supply: David Nelson)


The identify conjures up tiny beetles raiding the flour canister, however there are additionally many fairly giant (as much as 35millimetres) and exquisite weevils embellished in vibrant patterns. This can be a very giant group with over 6000 Australian species. Weevils are quite interesting bugs, with their elongated snout, feelers bent at proper angles and stocky physique. The mouth elements are situated on the tip of the snout, excellent for these vegetarians to bore into fruit and vegetation.

What to search for: Like many bugs weevils hibernate whereas it’s dry, rising a couple of days after rain to feed on lush new inexperienced development.

The place to search out them: In Sydney, the Botany Bay weevil Chrysolopus spectabilis — as much as 25 millimetres lengthy — is energetic presently of the 12 months feeding on acacias. Regardless of the identify, it lives proper all through south east Australia. The Botany Bay weevil, was one of many first Australian bugs to be described from materials collected in 1770 by Joseph Banks, a naturalist who landed at Botany Bay with Captain Cook dinner.

Species notes: Weevils are hardy beetles and may reside as much as 5 years.

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Floor beetle (Supply: CSIRO)

Floor beetle (carabs)

One other one of many main households of beetles, the bottom beetles (Carabidae) has about 2500 species in Australia. They often have outstanding mouthpaws and lengthy legs for scurrying about. Because the identify suggests, most species reside on the bottom and lots of are flightless.

What to search for: One of the vital infamous of the group is the inexperienced carab beetle, additionally known as the stink beetle, Calosoma schayeri. This beetle is a superb metallic inexperienced and fairly stunning, however it has a fame for swarming in large numbers at night time round lights. Final 12 months, the floodlights at a Queensland mine website attracted the beetles in plague proportions, a lot in order that they needed to be shovelled up into 44-gallon drums. Brightly lit purchasing centres are additionally continuously the goal of those beetles. Worse nonetheless, whenever you decide them up they squirt a foul substance from the tail. However the inexperienced floor beetle is not all dangerous. In addition they have a worthwhile function as a predator of insect pests, and prey on crop pests reminiscent of military and cutworms, tearing them to items with their highly effective jaws.

The place to search out them: Floor beetles inhabit nearly each local weather, from sizzling dry deserts to chilly moist mountain areas. As most species are ground-dwelling, they will typically be discovered beneath rocks, stones or bark, from the place they emerge after rain storms.

Species notes: One other group of floor beetles, notably frequent within the south and west, are the piedish beetles. These have a roundish form and a turned up edge round their our bodies. They might even be bushy and have a mouldy look, ready out the day beneath logs, in holes and rabbit burrows, then rising at night time to stroll everywhere in the desert sand dunes consuming something they arrive throughout. One species, Helea castor, lives within the drier areas, together with mallee, of western Australia, South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales. It’s a nocturnal species which comes out at night time to scavenge on lifeless plant materials.

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Additional information and credit

Australian insect common names

Coleoptera beetles in Brisbane area
Peter Chew

Particular due to:
This listing was compiled with the type help of entomologists round Australia, together with, Magnus Peterson (WA), Tom Weir (ACT), Ted Edwards (ACT), Geoff Monteith (Qld), Graham Brown (NT) Eric Matthews (SA) Chris Reid (NSW).

Permission to breed pictures was generously given by Peter Chew, Andrew Donnelly, Keith Energy and David Nelson.

This text consists of info from these references:

  • Jewel beetles and beer bottles
  • , DT Gwynne, DCF Rentz, 1983, J Aust Entomol Soc 22, 79-80

  • Bugs of Australia, John Goode, 1980, Angus and Robertson
  • A subject information to Bugs in Australia, Paul Zborowski and Ross Storey, 1998, Reed New Holland

Tags: invertebrates-insects-and-arachnids

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Revealed 04 December 2003

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