The weather conditions in South East Australia have been excellent for the ‘Plague Soldier Beetle, (
Chauliognathus lugubris) which have been found in swarms as they get together to mate. A swarm about three square metres was found in Duncan Street this week, just east of the Elrington Street intersection, with many thousands of the beetles, with the distinctive orange marking.
It is a strange site but they do not bite. In fact they are a native omnivorous species with the young
grubs living in the soil, feeding on other small creatures. The adult beetles feed on nectar and small insects, an effective as a biological control of aphids, grasshopper eggs and caterpillars, and may damage plants only through their huge weight in swarming.
According to csironewsblog.com “Our researchers have recently found the genes that give the chemical its anti-microbial and anti-cancer properties, and were able to replicate the synthesis in the lab. This may one day lead to the development of new anti-biotic and anti-cancer related products.”