Fiddler Beetles

23 December, 2007

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 australasiae

Fiddler Beetle, Eupoecila australasiae
Photographer/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.

Green Scarab Beetles, Diphucephala sp.Jewel Beetles, Castiarina sppGolden Stag Beetles, Lamprima aurata

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.

Comments (24)

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Jane 23 November, 2009 21:06
Yesterday a friend showed me a beetle she had found in her yard. We live in the Newcastle area. It had similar markings to a fiddler beetle but looked to have a more elongated body and was black with blue defining markings. It was beautiful. Do you have any idea what it may have been? Thanks Jane
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Discovery Centre 25 November, 2009 13:32

Hi Jane,

The Museum has a free identification service so please feel free to take a digital image of the beetle and e-mail it to discoverycentre@museum.vic.gov.au and we will try and put a name to it for you.

 

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ladybug 25 November, 2014 15:46
Very excited to identify the (green) fiddler beetles we found in the old potting mix so easily, I am bookmarking your site for future reference! I wonder if the blue-marked beetle Jane describes could be a Diamond Weevil. Very common in the Hunter region.
Angela Lunder 24 December, 2009 13:11
Thought I would let someone know I have fiddler beetles in my yard also. Im on the tip of the Mornington Peninsula very southern Victoria. Cheers
Rachel Tyler 2 December, 2013 00:17
My daughter found one of these beautiful beetles in our backyard today and we live on the mornington peninsula also.
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Ashley Johnson 7 March, 2010 11:13
Hi I have found a beautiful golden and pink spotted beetle in my house this morning in victoria. Could anyone tell me what it is?
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Discovery Centre 10 March, 2010 11:10

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!"

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cinda 5 December, 2010 09:24
wht do they eat and how come my ones green?
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Discovery Centre 6 December, 2010 16:03

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.

Fiddler Beetles vary enormously throughout their range up the east coast of Australia, both in size and colour. Their base colour varies from very dark brown to black and the lighter pattern ranges from pale yellow to an almost dark green.
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Vicki Dunk 28 December, 2010 16:35
what eats fiddler beetles?
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Discovery Centre 30 December, 2010 10:17
Hi Vicki, there is not one animal we know of that specialises in feeding on Fiddler Beetles. But a beetle this size would be a good food source for a range of hungry vertebrates such as insectivorous birds, bats, lizards and mammals. Then there are also the invertebrates such as spiders and scorpions.  
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Michael 1 January, 2011 16:48
Hi, I just saw one of these beetles in our front yard on this cloudy new years day! It was sitting in the middle of a rose flower eating the nectar as if it were a bee. We're in Box Hill in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne. Never seen one before. It was a spectacular sight and flew off into the distance once it was finished - a strong flyer!
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Erin Pycroft 3 January, 2011 13:10
The pictures above have allowed me to identify a beautiful little metallic green and orange beetle that I found (unfortunately dead) on my driveway this morning. A pristine male Golden Stag beetle (Lamprima aurata) - although there isn't really anything gold about him, as he seems to be more of a bright green with an orange head and iridescence! What is the usual range for this delightful little insect, because I haven't seen anything like him around until a couple of years ago when my mum found one. We live in central Gippsland - Moe and Trafalgar respectively. Also, is there a reason all the individuals that people in the area have seen have been males? (All have the well developed mandibles present.)
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Discovery Centre 7 January, 2011 11:42
Hi Erin, according to the CSIRO website, Lamprima aurata, commonly known as the Golden Stag Beetle is found in Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and New South Wales. The colouring can be variable in this species and it may be that people tend to notice the males more than the females as the males are usually bigger, have larger mandibles and tend to be brighter in colour than the females.   
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Ian Dickson 10 February, 2011 15:54
I have just discovered a group of these little devils - not supping on nectar - but attacking my raspberries (ripened fruit)!! How does one suggest politely that they go back to nectar ?- we are surrounded by acres of eucalypts ....
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Discovery Centre 12 February, 2011 13:05
Hi Ian, these beetles are meant to feed on nectar and not fruit, did you happen to get any images of the beetles that you could send us? If so our email address is discoverycentre@museum.vic.gov.au
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Terri Mitchell 6 January, 2012 13:26
I'm a bit excited - I found one of these gorgeous beetles in my backyard and I took photos of it because I had never seen anything like it. It didn't look that healthy ie it seemed to struggle to walk but did not appear damaged in anyway - in fact it defecated on the foam pool toy I found it on :-)
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Louis Bokor 6 January, 2012 15:34
Superb Field Guide to Vic Fauna App! A real service to your public. You may consider replacing the image for Neobatrachus Pictus (Painted frog). I think a skate or ray may have eaten the frog in the image ;-)
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Discovery Centre 6 January, 2012 15:52

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.

Thanks again for your comment, and we're glad you like the app!

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Bron Warner 12 February, 2012 12:00
Thank you! We've been calling this the Ben 10 beetle (if you have a young son, you'll know why) :) Recently we've found two that are black and orange so wanted to get its true name. Our yard has an area that is rainforest like and because it has rained for 3 years now in Qld, it is plenty damp down in that area. Plenty of food and protection for these beetles.
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Mandy Squair 16 February, 2012 16:35
A small fiddler beetle flew into our rain gauge 2 days ago (14 Feb)! Never seen one here before. We live in NW Canberra (Belconnen). It is still alive despite the water in the rain gauge.
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Discovery Centre 19 February, 2012 12:52
Hi Bron, the Museum does have a free identification service, you are welcome to send any images you have to discoverycentre@museum.vic.gov.au and we can try and identify it for you. It may also be worth contacting the Queensland Museum, who are likely to have more expertise on fauna from that part of the world.
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Jock Barr 29 October, 2013 11:03
wow
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peter 23 November, 2014 19:14
Found a flying beetle similar to Fiddler Beetle (Eupoecila australasiae) only about 40 to 50mm long and25mm wide. Shiny black and lime green zigzag across towards front and back across body. Spotted in Wyndhamvale Victoria. Please identify if anyone knows
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