Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Christmas Beetle, Anoplognathus pallidicollis



Christmas Beetle
Anoplognathus pallidicollis
At dusk, the Christmas beetle can be found dive bombing outdoor lights and sometimes making it indoors where it performs similar acrobatics around the room.They are easily recognized by their bright metallic gold exterior and when captured make interesting specimens to show children. These beetles are members of the scarab beetle family and are probably more familiar in their larvae stage as curl grubs or lawn grubs. As they are just below the soil surface feeding on roots at this stage of their lives ,they are favourite food of Magpies which you often see intently gazing at a patch of lawn before making stabbing motions at the ground and finding a prize grub. The adult beetles feed on Eucalyptus species and when present in large numbers can completely defoliate small trees and do considerable damage. You can usually tell the presence of the grubs in a lawn by the frantic circling of their natural predator ,the parasitic wasp, which burrows down into the soil to find them. These wasps are brilliantly metallic red coloured and are members of the Family Thynnidae and are beneficial insects in the garden and do no harm to humans or plants.
I prefer the organic approach to lawn care and don't spray lawns to remove the curl grub larvae.I enjoy their appearance at this time of year as adult beetles and their evening antics outdoors.

4 comments:

  1. Ian,
    These remind me of our Japanese Beetles which can be terrible pests some years. I used to pick them and toss them into the pond for the sunfish to eat. Out drought in 2002 wiped out my sunfish.

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  2. Ian
    These are scary looking beetles... albeit, a stunning color.
    btw, Love dark-leafed dahlias.
    Alice

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  3. we used to have loads of Christmas beetles where I grew up in Sylvania. They were in epic proportions and used to get stuck in my hair. Some had really opalescent colouring. Their numbers have decreased a lot and so has the opalescent colouring

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