Christmas beetles: Australians are enlisted in the search for lost holiday bugs by scientists
While some people start the holiday season by listening to Mariah Carey, many Australians have a different method of anticipating Christmas.
The appearance of the clumsy Christmas beetle, a colorful insect that swarms around streetlights in the summer and gets into bed linens and windows.
Christmas is associate with the arrival of these gorgeous, shining, friendly beetles in Australia, which is unique. The biological phenomenon, according to Dr. Tanya Latty, an associate professor at the University of Sydney, who spoke to the BBC. However, the “Christmas beetle count project,” led by Dr. Latty, aims to give the researchers clearer answers.
The innocuous beetles, which don’t bite or sting, were once a very common sight. Queenslanders were so productive in 1932 that they might be paid one pound to catch 200.
However, scientists now like to see a large number of them together. Like the platypus and koala, most beetle species are unique to Australia, but many have vanished from the continent.
Because the insects feed on eucalyptus trees and their larvae consume native grassroots, scientists believe that habitat destruction is to blame.
However, the “Christmas beetle count project,” led by Dr. Latty, aims to give the researchers clearer answers.
It seems that many people remember that there were a lot of these insects 10, 20, or more years ago. But that doesn’t appear to be happening now, “says Dr. Latty.
Australians are being asked to send photos of any Christmas beetles they encounter this holiday season to an app as part of research to count them and determine what might be causing their apparent decline.
Without figures, Dr. Latty claims, “we can’t even start to solve the conservation challenges here.”
According to Dr. Latty, the public’s involvement also referred to as “citizen science,” adds more knowledge than would otherwise be possible.
As a result, she says, “this allows us to get many individuals out there collecting data from ideally every part of the country.” Often, she adds, “we don’t have the means to undertake the kinds of large scale surveys.”
The insects, which belong to the species Anoplognathus of the scarab family, aerate the soil, while the beetles provide lizards, birds, and other animals with essential food.
According to Dr. Latty, Christmas beetles could signal other species’ extinction.
I’m truly worried that many other species may be experiencing comparable declines, but they’re not as severe, and nobody has noticed, the author claims.
Australians have recently been urge to pay particular attention to native animals because their nation has the greatest mammal extinction rate in the world.
Scientists urged people to visit fire-affected areas during the Australia 2020 bushfires, where it was safe to do so, and contribute photos to the same app used for the Christmas beetle research.
As frog populations are declining, the Australian Museum also release an app called FrogID that invites users to upload recordings of frog sounds from across the country. To date, more than 500,000 frog cries have been documented.
Dr. Latty has a straightforward message for individuals who aren’t sure whether to participate.
“This is sort of everyone’s chance to help safeguard biodiversity. We rarely get the chance to participate in these kinds of extensive conservation projects.
Why wouldn’t you post that picture if it only takes a minute and perhaps has a significant conservation benefit?