Animals

Did You Know? Incredible Christmas Beetle Facts

One of the most interesting Christmas beetle facts is that you can easily find them in Australia during the winter season
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Christmas beetles, or Christmas bugs,  live in the woodlands or forests and are found all over Australia, except for the desert regions. These Australian bugs species are known as Christmas beetles because they are abundant in urban and rural areas close to Christmas. There a total of 35 species of this Christmas beetle, eight of this species are found in Sydney. They are attractive in looks due to their iridescent color, which can look different from different angles. They have compound eyes, two pairs of wings, antennae, and adult Christmas beetles come with six pairs of legs. They are metallic brown, green or yellow and green in color.

They belong to the scarab bug Family (Scarabaeidae) in the Order of Coleoptera. Australia is a developed country, and it continues to grow rapidly. Because of this urbanization, the beetles are losing their home. Australian Christmas beetles are the largest of all other species of bugs. The Christmas beetle adults feed on eucalyptus leaves, and the larvae feed on grassroots. The life cycle of a Christmas beetle is between one and two years. Anoplognathus is the genus of this bug. After the rain softens the soil, adults fly to mate and feed on the nearest plant, then female beetles lays their eggs. A female beetle can lay between 20 and 40 eggs at once. In the early summer or spring season, the eggs are laid on the soil and after that, larvae emerge. Anoplognathus viridiaeneus is the scientific name of this bug species. They are one of the largest beetles in the beetle family and grow up to be around 0.7-1.1 in (2.3 cm) in length. They are present in large quantities throughout the summer months.

Sydney, and NSW (New South Wales), particularly, used to be filled with swarms of these bugs. But, reduction in the size of Cumberland Plain woodland has ruined their habitat. Entomologist Dr. Chris Reid, from the Australian Museum, ascribes the drop in sightings to it being a drier than normal spring season, especially along the New South Wales coast. Chris Reid (from Australian Museum Research Institute) says, on the disappearance of Christmas bugs, that the reason behind the decrease of the beetles is urbanization. In other words, since trees are being chopped off to build residential areas, the beetles own habitats are being destroyed. Christmas bugs’ main food source is eucalyptus leaves, but these trees have also declined due to the rising populace.

If you liked reading these facts, you can also check our facts on the green june beetle or blister beetle.

Christmas beetles

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Eucalyptus leaves

What do they eat?

Herbivorous

Average litter size?

2

How much do they weigh?

o.2 lb (115 g)

How long are they?

0.7-1.1 in (2-3 cm)


How tall are they?

N/A


What do they look like?

Dark brown, light brown, green and yellow

Skin Type

Rough

What are their main threats?

Urbanization and tourism development

What is their conservation status?

Not Extinct

Where you'll find them

Woodlands

Locations

Australia

Kingdom

Animalia

Class

Insects

Scientific Name

Anoplognathus

Family

Scarabaeidae

Genus

Anoplognathus

Christmas Beetle Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Christmas beetle?

Christmas beetles are scarab Bugs.

What class of animal does a Christmas beetle belong to?

Christmas beetles belong to the Insecta class of animals.

How many Christmas beetles are there in the world?

The number of beetles is not known, but it has been found that these insects are not at concern of becoming extinct.

Where does a Christmas beetle live?

Christmas beetles live in woodlands and forests. They don't live in deserts and heavily rained areas.

What is a Christmas beetle's habitat?

A Christmas beetle's habitat is wherever there are plenty of trees and rich soil, so they tend to prefer woodland areas. The larvae of these beetles develop in soil, and remain there as curl grubs, feeding on grass and plant roots. They are found all around Australia except deserts.

Who do Christmas beetles live with?

Christmas beetles live on their own.

How long does a Christmas beetle live?

Christmas beetles can live for ten weeks or more depending on the weather.  They prefer to weather to be cold and dry, which is why they arise between November and January, hence the name Christmas beetles.

How do they reproduce?

After rain softens the soil, the adults fly to mate and feed on the nearest plant. The female beetle then lays between 20 to 40 eggs at once. The eggs are laid in the early summer or spring season.

What is their conservation status?

The official conservation status of Christmas beetles is Not Extinct but in Sydney, it has been reported that the number of these beetles have been rapidly declining over 30 years due to the cutting down of woodlands.

Christmas Beetle Fun Facts

What do Christmas beetles look like?

Christmas beetles are small in size, roughly 0.7-1.1 in (2-3 cm). They are attractive due to their iridescence, which can look different from different angles. They have compound eyes, two pairs of wings and a set of antenna. Adult Christmas beetles have six pairs of legs. They are metallic brown, green and yellow or green in color.

christmas bugs have gained notoriety for causing dieback of trees.

How cute are they?

Christmas beetles are not all that cute, but they are attractive due to their color and iridescence. The adults emerge close to the Christmas period (which is where they get their name from). They are noisy and clumsy fliers.

How do they communicate?

Adult beetles make noises, by rubbing their legs on their bodies or scraping their mouthparts together. They communicate with other beetles by using chemicals, and males can locate females by their scent.

How big is a Christmas beetle?

Christmas beetles are among the largest beetles in the beetle family, they can grow to around 0.7-1.1 in (2-3 cm) in length and can be present in large quantities throughout the Australian summer months.

How fast can a Christmas beetle move?

There is no official record of the speed of Christmas beetles, but they can move fast just like other tiny insects. It is also well known that they are good filers and can fly for many kilometers at a time, although an accurate measurement of the distance has not been recorded either.

How much does a Christmas beetle weigh?

Christmas beetles weigh around 0.2 lb (115 g). They are very light in weight and tiny in size.

What are the male and female names of the species?

The species name of both the male and female is Aviridiaeneus (Anoplognathus viridiaeneus). No different names are given to different genders.

What would you call a baby Christmas beetle?

The young of Christmas beetles don't have any specific names and are simply called baby Christmas beetles.

What do they eat?

The larvae of Australian Christmas beetles eat decaying organic matter or plant roots. Adult bugs eat the leaves of eucalyptus trees.

Are they poisonous?

No, these bugs are not poisonous, but they tend to destroy the plants they eat by feeding on them. These beetles can also bite, but they don't do this often.

Would they make a good pet?

They may or may not make a good pet, as they cannot understand the human language and cannot be trained.

Did you know...

Australian Christmas bugs are exoskeleton insects. Bugs don’t have bones and an internal skeleton as we people have. These bugs have an exoskeleton, which is like a large shell that gives them shape and protects them. They have tiny hairs which are called 'setae' on the outside of the exoskeleton that helps to improve the bug’s perception of touch and sound.

Where have all the Christmas beetles gone?

Sydney, and NSW, particularly, used to be filled with swarms of beetles. Reduction in the size of Cumberland Plain woodland has ruined their habitat. Entomologist Dr. Chris Reid, from the Australian Museum, says that this drop in sightings may be because of the season being drier than normal, especially along the New South Wales coast. Reid, from the Australian Museum Research Institute, says that the disappearance of Christmas beetles is due to urbanization. Trees are being chopped down to build houses and this destroys the beetles preferred habitat, for this reason, they are disappearing.

How many species of Christmas beetles are there?

There is a total of 35 species of Christmas beetles, eight of which occur in Sydney.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other arthropods including click beetles, or atlas beetles.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one of our christmas beetle coloring pages.

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