Question: My granddaughter Sarah found this beetle in my garden last week. Can you tell us what it is? It has very distinctive green markings on its back. I think it is a Christmas Beetle - it looks very Christmassy to me - but Sarah tells me that Christmas Beetles are gold.
Fiddler Beetle, Eupoecila australasiaePhotographer/Source: Otto Rogge
Answer: Your granddaughter is right: the beetle you found in your garden is not a Christmas Beetle. However, it would certainly be a contender for the title of “Christmas Beetle” if the title was not already taken.
Christmas Beetles (Anoplognathus spp.) are metallic gold in colour. The beetle she found in your garden is a Fiddler Beetle (Eupoecila australasiae). It was given this name because of the distinctive violin-shaped marking on its back.
Fiddler Beetles lay their eggs in rotting logs or in damp soil under logs. The grubs that hatch feed on rotting timber and build cocoons of soil and debris (they are occasionally found in potting mix). The adult beetles emerge in early summer. They are strong fliers and fly between eucalypt and other trees to feed on nectar. They are found in all states except for Western Australia and are harmless to humans.
You and your granddaughter might like to keep a look out for other species of “Christmassy” beetle. Green Scarab Beetles (Diphucephala sp.), Jewel Beetles (Castiarina spp) and Golden Stag Beetles (Lamprima aurata) are all active at this time of year and are all dressed for Christmas.
1) Green Scarab Beetles, Diphucephala sp. 2) Jewel Beetle, Castiarina spp. 3) Golden Stag Beetle, Lamprima aurata. Photographer/Source: 1) Ross Field, 2&3) Otto Rogge.
Thanks for the feedback, Louis - the image in question is a bit difficult to make out, but I've checked with a few colleagues here and I can confirm it is indeed a picture of the Painted Frog partly emerged from loose sand - note the nostrils, ridges above the eyes, markings on the snout and rounded muzzle. Although it is a bit cryptic, the image is useful for identifying froms emerging from their burrows or demonstrating burrowing behaviour.
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Hi Julia, adult Fiddler Beetles feed on flowers and can be seen buzzing around blossoms, particularly on gum trees, during the day. The larvae (juvenile stage) live underground and feed on decaying organic matter and rotting wood.
Hi Ahsley. That sounds lovely. If you manage to get a detailed photograph, we can attempt an identification for you. More info here. But do bear in mind that "one in every three known species on Earth is a beetle!"
The Museum has a free identification service so please feel free to take a digital image of the beetle and e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will try and put a name to it for you.
Is it possible to view this interesting exhibit? It really seems a great pity to have such a significant item in a collection and not display it.
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