Christmas beetles Click to enlarge image
King Beetle (left) and two unnamed Christmas beetles L-r: Anoplognathus viridiaeneus, Anoplognathus hirsutus and Anoplognathus brunnipennis. Image: Abram Powell
© Australian Museum

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Genus
    Anoplognathus
    Subfamily
    Rutelinae
    Family
    Scarabaeidae
    Super Family
    Scarabaeoidea
    Order
    Coleoptera
    Class
    Insecta
    Subphylum
    Uniramia
    Phylum
    Arthopoda
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Number of Species
    35
  • Size Range
    2 cm - 3 cm

Introduction

There are about 35 species of Christmas beetles (family Scarabaeidae), eight of which occur in Sydney. Anoplognathus viriditarsus is the largest of the Sydney Christmas beetles.

Identification

Christmas beetles have vibrant colours and the adults emerge close to the Christmas period. The larvae are white and C-shaped, similar to those of flower chafers and stag beetles.

Habitat

Christmas beetles are found in forests and woodlands.

Distribution

Christmas beetles are found in southern and eastern Australia.


Feeding and diet

Christmas beetles come into Sydney from surrounding woodland where the adults feed on eucalypt leaves and the larvae feed on grass roots. Adults can occur in large numbers, sometimes completely defoliating trees.

Conservation status

The total number of Christmas beetles reported in the Sydney area has declined over the last 30 years as the grassy woodland areas get used up for housing.

Further reading

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