December 23rd – Christmas Beetle

Christmas Beetle (Anoplognathus pallidicollis)

It’s not like Christmas creeps up on us unannounced, but there’s one final sign that Christmas is almost upon us.

It’s the “thud thud thud” of the Anoplognathus pallidicollis as it try to get that little bit closer to your outdoor lights. According to the CSIRO the Christmas Beetle can fly several kilometres, but I’ve only ever seen it fly much shorter distances – 15 cm’s one way, 15 cm’s back into the window or external light. Rinse and repeat.

The Christmas beetle is an Australian native scarab beetle in the Anoplognathus family. We found this creature (and a friend) doing commando rolls on the concrete floor during the day. We tried righting the poor guys, but in a couple of steps they were doing backspins again.

There’s possibly 2 reasons for it being disoriented – firstly these beetles are nocturnal, and secondly their forelegs are uneven. So even when they are walking effectively, they’d probably just walk in circles.

Like many summer insects, they live underground for much of their life, and often emerge soon after a summer storm or soak, making the soil softer for them to dig through to return to the surface.


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