The word is out that Christmas beetles are back and earlier than usual. The harbingers of Christmas, which many of us recall as being plentiful to the point of being commonplace in years gone by, appear to have been in decline.

As is often the case, no-one is quite sure what the extent of the decline is or why, because the alarm bells – and therefore the focus – has only recently been activated.

Now, Invertebrates Australia is investigating the population and habits of this iconic Aussie insect, and they are keen to hear from anyone who spots a Christmas (or related) beetle. Their Christmas Beetle Count is already up and running, with 5 records of Christmas beetles so far from Albury Wodonga.

Contributing to the Christmas Beetle Count is a great way to add your beetle encounters to the mix. One you have the iNaturalist app on your phone it’s easy to upload photos of any beetles you see and get help with identifying them. See below for how to get started.

Christmas Beetles (Anoplognathus spp.) come in a range of hues, with fantastic iridescent colours and degrees of hairiness matched by names like ‘King’, ‘Purple Reign’, ‘Washerwoman’, and ‘Granny Smith’ Beetle.

There are similar beetles, like Scarab Beetles, out and about at the moment. iNaturalist wants to know about them as well, as all observations add to the bigger picture and help to answer those bigger queries; where are they, how many are there, when do they appear? Since October there have been 15 records of Argentinian scarab beetles added from Albury Wodonga.

So, if you see a Christmas Beetle, by all means admire it (they are pretty extraordinary), and then take it’s photo and upload it on the app, so we can all get the answers! You will be joining 4,594 other beetle spotters, and adding to the current tally of 8,581 Christmas Beetle sightings.

Happy Christmas, and here’s to a citizen science-led explosion in our understanding of Christmas Beetles!

To get started:

  1. Download the iNaturalist App from the App Store or Google Play.
  2. Join the iNaturalist Christmas Beetles Project
  3. Add your Beetle photos

There are also great resources available to satisfy your Christmas Beetle curiosity, including

Photo credit: “Brown Christmas beetle” by ibsut is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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