Have you seen any Christmas beetles this year? Scientists say although populations differ between states, it is just one of many insects slowly disappearing and they are not sure why. Tanya Latty, an entomologist from the University of Sydney, said it was a question many people had been asking.
"What we do know at least anecdotally is that lots of people have said, 'when I was a kid there would be Christmas beetles everywhere and now you rarely see them'," Dr Latty said. "And that seems to be really consistent, which is pretty decent evidence that there may be something going on, that their populations could be going down." Dr Latty described insects as "the little things that run the world", and said their worldwide decline across species was catastrophic. "They underpin many of our ecosystems, they are food for bigger things, they clean up the waste, they're the pollinators, predators that keep pest populations under control.
There are around 35 species of Christmas beetles across Australia, with most emerging between mid-November and late December when the larvae hatches. While no definitive studies have been conducted on the decline in Christmas beetles, scientists have noted population numbers could vary from state to state. "In New South Wales people nostalgically remember hordes of Christmas beetles descending on their Christmas parties, which is no longer happening," Macquarie University entomologist Chris Reid said. "However, Queensland sources on the other hand claim that populations have actually boomed in recent years due to the increase in grassland, where the larvae feed on the grass roots and they actually cite the adults as a pest species."
Source: ABC News, 27 Dec 2018