Christmas beetles used to be associated with the holiday season. They would arrive in large numbers in December and then crash into the lights at backyard barbecues.
In the 1960s and the 1970s, the CSIRO blamed the pests for the deaths of thousands of eucalyptus trees in the area of Armidale, NSW. In Canberra, the highway leading into the national capital used to be lined with red gums.
After several years of being devoured by the Christmas beetles, the natives were eventually replaced with peppermints in Tasmania.
For the past decade or so, people have been asking where the Christmas beetles are now. According to Chris Reid, an entomologist at the Australian Museum, the number of scarabs has significantly dropped.
Dr. Reid says that he gets calls about the Christmas beetles every year. Although there have been no reliable scientific studies on the population of the pests in Australia, he says that anecdotal evidence has shown a decline.
He also noted that the same trend has been observed in the areas where he lives.
According to Dr. Reid, there has been a massive drop-off in the number of Christmas beetles around him.
He used to collect them for his science classes, and he would often collect them at night outside a train station.
He says that the decline in the number of Christmas beetles has been attributed to various factors. One of these is the urban sprawl.
According to Dr. Reid, climate change is also partly responsible for the decline of the Christmas beetles. These pests can live as long as a month.
As larvae, the Christmas beetles live in the soil for about two years. They are usually seen in Queensland and NSW.
There are about 10 species of Christmas beetles in the Sydney region. Some of the most common types are the queen beetle, the washerwoman, and the olivevieri.