Today is December 1st, this reminds me that Christmas is well and truly close, nature has a way of reminding me of this too. Every year, in Australia, in December, we would get a particular type of beetle flying in. This beetle is known as the “christmas beetle”, for it’s seasonal presence. Telling this beetle apart from similar ones was easy enough, this one had a look about it that made it easy to identify. Any time one flew around or was found crawling around, I was quick to notice the characteristic hard thump in which it landed and the slightly pitted wings with pale tan and iridescent sheen.
The species is part of the scarab family, maybe one of my favourite families of beetles, somehow with their often showy appearance, these beetles made it easy for a girl to like bugs and not be afraid of them. Their appearance aside, this beetle didn’t hiss, smell or bite and was perfectly happy to fly away from you, traits not shared by all insects.
Travelling to different regions across Australia, I’ve since noted subtle differences within the beetle. The one I’m familiar with is the one in the centre of the 3 in the image above. The darker spots on the wings, noticably pitted texture and hairy body parts. The image also illustrates the irridesent sheen, especially on the thorax. I anticipate to have some more animated images of the beetle in the near future to accompany the article.
Christmas beetle is a name commonly applied to the Australian beetle genus Anoplognathus. They are known as Christmas beetles because they are abundant in both urban and rural areas close to Christmas. Christmas beetles are large (20-30 mm long) members of the scarab family that are noisy and clumsy fliers, similar to the cockchafers of Europe. They typically have elytra that are a dark or light brown, or green, in some species with a green-yellow iridescence. The genus includes 35 species, several of which have been implicated in dieback of eucalypts. Anoplognathus pallidicollis is the species most commonly observed and associated with the name of Christmas beetle. source