This Holiday season, as sure as the shopping malls become packed with crazed shoppers; and as sure as young children wake way too early Christmas morning; so too will the Christmas beetle appear, on cue, in large numbers across most of Australia.
Christmas beetles (Anoplognathus) are a classification of beetle found in Australia that consists of some 35 different beetle species from the family Scarabaeidae. These beetles are called Christmas beetles, because of their frequent emergence close to Christmas each and every year.
Why Christmas Beetles Appear At Christmas
The reason these beetles are so common around the Christmas holiday, is because of their seasonal life cycle. The beetles appear from December to January, mate, and then lay their eggs in the soil. The larvae take almost a full calendar year to develop before they emerge once again late in the year. This wave of Christmas beetle emergence can vary, depending on the climate and on the species of beetle.
What Christmas Beetles Look Like
Since there are 35 different species of Christmas beetle, their appearance can vary greatly. Christmas beetles are known for their iridescence color, which can appear to change depending on the angle of view. Aside from being an iridescent green, they can also be dark yellow, rose, brown, and dark green. A Christmas beetle measures about an inch long on average, or approximately 20-30 millimeters.
Christmas Beetle Habits
Christmas beetles are insatiable eaters, attacking a broad range of eucalyptus and tree species. They will make zigzag patterns on the leaves as they eat, tearing up tree leaves with most of the leaf falling to the earth being wasted.
Christmas beetles can swarm, depending on the weather conditions. They are quite clumsy fliers, and are very loud while in flight and when landing. They are particularly attracted to outdoor lighting while in flight.
If you live in Australia, you are probably quite familiar with these beautiful, but sometimes annoying, beetle pests.