Friday, 11 March 2011

A soldier mating frenzy

Its been far too long since I last posted.  In that time all the bark has been falling off the Eucalyptus trees as we are nearing the end of summer, so that they are now all quite naked. 
Apparently the process of bark shedding is accelerated after rain, as the bark softens and peels more easily.  Today was a wet day in the gardens - I love wet days.  The gardens are always quiet on those days (without people), but very much alive, I feel certain the birds all come out to play after the rain.  Today there were lots of little birds flitting around near the garden gate and I managed to get a picture of two fast movers I've not managed to capture before, a pretty little Spotted Pardalote Pardalotus punctatus and a Grey Fantail Rhipidura fuliginosa, which has a very acrobatic flight.   
As I was taking a photo of some striking Eucalyptus on the Eucalypt Lawn, I noticed that where the bark was peeling from the tree lots of beetles had gathered.  Looking closely I saw they were all coupled up, it was a beetle orgy!  These are Green Soldier Beetles Chauliognathus sp., also known as Plague Solider Beetles - they are known to gather together in large numbers for the purpose of breeding.  Some amusing stories I found on the web - one report that in February 2009 a school in the Blue Mountains closed its library when so many beetles were found over the walls.  The Australian Museum writes that although the beetles may gather in huge numbers on plants they are far more interested in mating than eating, so don't pose much threat as a pest!
So, where the old bark peels off the Eucalyptus trees the beetles gather to create new life, the circle of life goes on. 


  1. Hi Hazel.
    Nice "get" with the Pardalote.
    The "Love bugs" are easy to photograph when otherwise engaged.
    Love the Scribbly Gums when they shed like that. My local ones look totally fresh at present, just finished shedding.

  2. Thank you for joining my site and also for identifying this beetle for me that I have not posted because I did not know it's name.

  3. Hi Arija, glad to be useful! I see you are going on an India Flint workshop, how cool :o) Ive been reading Eco Colour but not had a go at any Eco dying yet... will have to see if she is travelling anywhere near canberra!

  4. Ah, so that's what those things are, Green Soldier Beetles. I've never seen quite so many!