Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Robertson Green Restaurant and Pub Beetle

This is a "Robertson Green Restaurant and Pub Beetle" . You might think it is an unusual name, but I have followed the tradition of naming it from where it was found. The first one landed on my daughter Zoe's black jumper, when she was sitting outside the Robbo Pub (in November, 2006). Last night’s specimen was found on the wire screen door of a local restaurant. My friend Ted kindly provided his sleeve as a neutral background to show the wonderful colour of the Beetle's shell.
As can be seen in the first image, it has series of pits or depressions on its wings, and those tiny pits are in a series of definite lines. From my memory, the common “Christmas Beetles” from around Canberra, which are bronze-coloured, do not have these lines on their wing shells. A brief look at the Australian Museum site this morning shows some of the Christmas Beetles (genus Anoplognathus) do have these ribbed lines on their wing shells. They also have similar spurs on the legs, which apparently are an adaptation for digging - presumably to lay eggs in soil, and to emerge from the soil, once they have completed their metamorphosis.
I was expecting to need assistance from my Aussie Nature Blogger colleagues to come up with a more scientific name for this creature, however, a Google Search for "Christmas Beetle + Green" gave me a perfect match: Anoplognathus prasinus Thanks are due to Nick Monoghan.
It is, in effect an apple-green coloured Christmas Beetle. It is distinctly hairy underneath.
Its also it has a series of short, sharp bristles between the head and the second segment of the carapace, and also above the wings.
This species seems to arrive earlier than the regular Christmas Beetles, as I saw it two years ago (just once) on 16 November, and last night, 17 October. Robertson does not have many Eucalypts, so it is likely to be a species which feeds on rainforest plants. This matches the information on the Australian Insects site linked above. I mention this, as the traditional Aussie "Christmas Beetles" are obligate Eucalypt feeders, and we get very few of them in Robertson.

I have only ever seen two specimens of this species of Beetle - so presumably it is not very common.

As can be seen in the first image, it has series of pits or depressions on its wings, and those tiny pits are in a series of definite lines. From my memory, the common “Christmas Beetles” from around Canberra, which are bronze-coloured, do not have these lines on their wing shells. A brief look at the Australian Museum site this morning shows some of the Christmas Beetles (genus Anoplognathus) do have these ribbed lines on their wing shells. They also have similar spurs on the legs, which apparently are an adaptation for digging - presumably to lay eggs in soil, and to emerge from the soil, once they have completed their metamorphosis. I have included two photos from 2006, which are not taken with the Macro lens. The first of those images, above, shows the intricate details of the spurs on the legs, and the arrangement of antennae and mouth parts around the head. I have also included one shot of the 2006 specimen just about to fly away – showing what I mean about the wing shells, for Beetles have thin, transparent wings under the cover of the hard wing shells***. As they are about to fly, they lift the hard shells up and out of the way, and then flap with the softer inner (lower) wings. You can see the split appearing between these hard wing shells, as the creature was preparing to take off.
*** The Australian Museum Beetles website tells me that Beetles "front wings (called elytra) are hard sheaths that protect the beetles' hind wings and cover the breathing pores."

4 comments:

Duncan said...

Better on the screen door than in your soup Denis! A nice beetle, new one on me.

Robert V. Sobczak said...

We are still battling with your melaleuca down here: it's an invasive exotic in Florida. And we also recruited a beetle to help us keep it in check. But I also understand we returned the favor with the pond apple! Great blog by the way.

Denis Wilson said...

Thanks Duncan. Beetles in soup? No thanks.
Welcome, Robert. I have another contact in Florida, who has mentioned our Melaleucas being a problem there. Humble apologies. Will trade them with foxes, rats, rabbits, Cane Toads, Ivy, Tradescantia etc. Plants and animals without natural enemies can suddenly become a problem which is unimaginable in their natural environment. Melaleucas pose no threats here, that I am aware of. But they love swampy ground - which presumably why they were introduced.
Hydrologists (good ones) are rare in Australia. Most of our local ones are paid by Government to say it is OK to drain groundwater, by longwall mining, or for bottling by Coca Cola (as Mineral Spring Water). I have written much about the need to protect the local Kangaloon Aquifer.
Nice to have you drop by.

Denis

Martin Lagerwey said...

Hello
I found this beetle in Victoria and suspect it is not Anoplognathus but the eucalyptus chafer Xylonichus eucalypti. There's not many of these on line and pretty hard to ID. You can also find it on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/66925960@N08/6151227037/in/set-72157627569531870 or http://www.lochmantransparencies.com/p2927/eucalyptus-chafer