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Become a citizen scientist this festive season and help track Christmas Beetles around Australia

The Christmas Beetle Count project

Article by Wild Animals Australia | 01 December 2023

As tinsel and Christmas lights decorate your house and make everything sparkly, you may be wondering about another shiny thing that seems to be missing. The Australian Christmas beetle (Anoplognathus spp), in all its shining glory, has become noticeably absent in recent years during the festive season.

So, where have all the Christmas beetles gone?

Usually coming out into the open during November and December looking for food and a mate, these beetles are most commonly found in and around gum trees. Having spent most of the year as larvae underground, the holiday period is their time to shine (literally!).

Over the last ten years, it seems that sightings of these beautiful insects have dwindled exponentially, with many researchers on the case as to the reason why. With 35 Christmas beetle species being affected, it is beginning to become a concerning case.

Some evidence suggests that habitat loss and the loss of gum trees and bushland in suburban areas is the leading cause for the Christmas beetle disappearance.


The University of Sydney is heading up the Christmas Beetle Count Project and they need your help. You see, they think the Christmas Beetle population in Australia is in decline, but they can’t be sure. They can’t know either which of the 35 species of Christmas Beetle is affected, or if they all are. This is where you come in, you the public, the citizen scientists.


The University of Sydney and Invertebrates Australia are calling on the public to help track the beetles. All you have to do when you see one is to take a photo and upload it to iNaturalist; it’s super easy to sign up. If you can, and the beetle stays still long enough, it would be terrific if you could get photos from the front and back and the top and bottom, because that all helps with identification. Even if the beetle you find is dead, knowing where it was found is still helpful.


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