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Christmas Beetle Fact File

anoplognathus pallidicollis

Credit: Donald Hobern from Copenhagen, Denmark, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Weight

Insufficient

Data

Length

2cm

(0.8in)

Lifespan

Wild 2 years

Captive 2 years

Diet

Herbivore

Eucalypt leaves

Conservation Status

IUCN

Not Evaluated

The Christmas beetle is named for their emergence from their pupal stage which occurs prior to Christmas meaning these animals are in abundance at this time.

They are a native of Australia where they can be found along the majority of the east coast.

Adults feed on eucalypt leaves and will sometimes reach plague proportions where they can defoliate trees. Larvae feed on the roots of plants and can cause them to die off turning these areas yellow.

They are threatened by birds of prey, possums and predatory wasps.

Read on to learn more about these incredible invertebrates.

Appearance

What does the Christmas Beetle look like?

Christmas beetles are an insect and have a three-segmented body which is made up of the head, thorax and abdomen. On either side of the body are three legs for a total of six.

Their legs feature a number of small, spiked barbs and end with a small claw. The forelegs are of an uneven length to help them cling on to the eucalypt leaves.

On top of the head are a pair of small antennae.

Sitting on the abdomen are a pair of elytra which are protective covers for the wings. Across the body they are colored pale brown. Across the elytra is an irregular pattern of darker brown spots.

An average Christmas beetle will measure 2cm (0.8in) long.

Diet

What does the Christmas Beetle eat?


The Christmas beetle is a herbivore which feeds almost exclusively on eucalypt leaves.

These beetles can gather in such large numbers at trees that they cause severe leaf loss.

Christmas Beetle (Anoplognathus pallidicollis)

Credit: Cyron Ray Macey from Brisbane (-27.470963,153.026505), Australia, CC BY 2.0

<https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Range

Where can you find the Christmas Beetle?

Australia is the native home of the Christmas beetle. Here they can be found along the east coast through Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.

Habitat

What kind of environment does the Christmas Beetle live in?

These animals are found in areas with a supply of eucalypt trees on which they can feed.

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Reproduction

How does the Christmas Beetle produce its young?

Eggs of the Christmas beetle hatch in to a larvae. These begin their life feeding on the roots of plants. Often they will turn the patches of vegetation where they feed from green to yellow.

At the end of winter the young will enter their pupal stage and begin their transition in to an adult. After several weeks as a pupa they will emerge. Before they burrow out of this shell they will wait for rain to soften the soil. When thunderstorms occur it is common to see large emergences of beetles.

Following their emergence they will fly to a nearby tree to mate and feed. After mating the females return to the ground and lay their eggs ready for the next stage of the life cycle to begin.

Behavior

What does the Christmas Beetle do with its day?

These beetles are able to fly and are most commonly seen when they fly towards the lights at houses.

Christmas beetles are active by night when they will seek out food. Most of their activity is undertaken around sunset.

Christmas Beetle (Anoplognathus pallidicollis)

Credit: Donald Hobern from Copenhagen, Denmark, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Predators and Threats

What is impacting the survival of the Christmas Beetle?

Natural predators of the Christmas beetle include possums, birds of prey such as currawongs and predatory wasps.

These insects may be subject to control measures as when they are present in large numbers they can defoliate trees.

Quick facts

These beetles are most active during summer which is when Christmas occurs in Australia giving them their name.

They may also be known as the white Christmas beetle.

Christmas Beetle (Anoplognathus pallidicollis)

Credit: Donald Hobern from Copenhagen, Denmark, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

References

Tuton, H., 2021. Christmas Beetles. [online] Sustainable Gardening Australia. Available at: <https://www.sgaonline.org.au/christmas-beetles/> [Accessed 26 November 2021].

Guide, G., 2021. species: Anoplognathus pallidicollis in Australian Insects (Gaia Guide). [online] Gaiaguide.info. Available at: <http://www.gaiaguide.info/Group.html?hierarchyId=oovmnHMF&groupId=9OUlFabs> [Accessed 26 November 2021].

Ozanimals.com. 2021. Christmas Beetle (Anoplognathus pallidicollis). [online] Available at: <https://www.ozanimals.com/Insect/Christmas-Beetle/Anoplognathus/pallidicollis.html> [Accessed 26 November 2021].

Backyard Buddies. 2021. Christmas Beetle. [online] Available at: <https://backyardbuddies.org.au/backyard-buddies/christmas-beetles/> [Accessed 26 November 2021].

Chew, P., 2021. White Christmas Beetle – Anoplognathus pallidicollis. [online] Brisbaneinsects.com. Available at: <https://www.brisbaneinsects.com/brisbane_scarabs/WhiteChristmasBeetle.htm> [Accessed 26 November 2021].

Australia, A., 2021. Species: Anoplognathus pallidicollis. [online] Bie.ala.org.au. Available at: <https://bie.ala.org.au/species/urn:lsid:biodiversity.org.au:afd.taxon:babf32b1-932f-4968-972b-adca86e3ed42> [Accessed 26 November 2021].

Jungledragon.com. 2021. Anoplognathus pallidicollis (Anoplognathus pallidicollis) – JungleDragon. [online] Available at: <https://www.jungledragon.com/specie/8266/anoplognathus_pallidicollis.html> [Accessed 26 November 2021].

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