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Mass of Soldier Beetles

About a week before Christmas in 2012 I noticed that there seemed to be a lot of Soldier Beetles (possibly Chauliognathus lugubris, see Wikipedia), in the front garden. The numbers increased rapidly, and by the 28th there were enormous swarms of them.

They seemed to move around -- one morning there were thousands of them in the front porch, that afternoon the hanging branches of the Melaleuca were full of them, a day or two later when I went out to get the paper there were great clumps of them all over the footpath and drive, and then they gradually retreated into the low bushes and clumps of grass. They were still quite a lot of them on 9 January, but the following morning I could not find any.

Masses of Soldier Beetles in Melaleuca

Every black blob in the photo on the left is a mass like the one on the right, probably containing some hundreds of insects.

Although there were innumerable dense clumps I did not see any of them mating. There were clouds of them flying around in the front garden (which my late wife use Pat used to complain was the only bush garden in Brighton), but none in the more conventional back garden, and when I walked round the block I could not see any in anyone else's garden.


Soldier Beetles on a blade of grass

 

I have fairly often seen small swarms in the High Country, and I have occasionally seen individuals in the suburbs, but never in anything like the number in this swarm. There were dense masses of them in every bush, and there must have been millions of them altogether.

In the five years since the original incident I have not noticed any Soldier Beetles anywhere in the garden (May, 2017).

 © Roger Riordan 2004-2017