The large range of native plants in our cold climate garden attract a wide range of insects.
We find that, because of the size of the garden, insects cause very little damage to our plants. In fact we feel that the majority of native insects are either useful or benign.
Beetles, because of their size, are one of the most visible groups of insect visitors. Many species are attracted to plants in flower where they feed on nectar and play an important role in pollination.
The Flower Chafer Beetles are prominent visitors. They have striking patterns and glossy colouring on their wing cases. They are unusual because, unlike other beetles, they fly with their colourful wing cases closed.
The Fiddler Beetle, Eupoecila australasiae, is one of these attractive Flower Chafer Beetles that visit our cold climate garden particularly during the spring flowering period. They are between 15 to 20 millimetres long with fiddle or violin-like markings in yellow or green.
Fiddler Beetles are found in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, and south-eastern South Australia. They live in heathland and eucalypt woodland as well as suburban parks and gardens.
Females lay eggs in rotting logs, in debris or soil. The larvae eat rotting wood until they mature and pupate, making a cocoon-like chamber within the wood. Adult beetles burrow through the soil and emerge in spring or early summer, and feed on nectar-laden flowers.
We have observed Fiddler Beetles feeding on Bursaria spinosa (Blackthorn) and Melaleuca huegelii (Chenille Honey-myrtle) flowers in our garden (see photo). We also found a specimen in a Sydney garden.
The Fiddler Beetle was originally described by Anglo Irish naturalist Edward Donovan as Cetonia australasiae 1805. It was reclassified and became the type species of the new genus Eupoecila by German entomologist Hermann Burmeister in 1842.
The Spotted Flower Chafer Beetle is the subject of another article in this series.