Iridescent Christmas Beetle from Australia
November 3, 2009
Hi, I’ve seen some recent posts about the brownish Christmas Beetles. Here are some photos of a gorgeous bright green beetle rescued from our swimming pool last summer. We always called these ones Christmas Beetles as kids (ignored the bworn ones), they were highly sought-after. The CSIRO site is fabulous if you know which bit of a beetle is which, but I wouldn’t know a notoplural suture if it bit me (perhaps it has). Can you help? Thanks
Melbourne, Australia (southeastern seaboard)

Golden Green Stag Beetle

Stag Beetle

Dear Elizabeth,
WE aren’t certain, but we don’t believe this is a Christmas Beetle.  We don’t even think it is a Scarab Beetle.  We actually believe it is a Stag Beetle.  We found some matches on a BunyipCo Stag Beetle site.  A Lamprima species looks very close, and there is another image entitled “minor” male King Stag Beetle that also looks close.  Searching Lamprima brought us to the Brisbane Insect website, and a species called the Golden Green Stag Beetle, Lamprima latreillii, and we are happy with that as an identification.  It is also depicted on the Csiro website.

Golden Green Stag Beetle

Conflicting Opinion:  Rainbow Stag Beetle or King Stag Beetle
This beetle is a Phalacrognathus Muelleri, commonly known as rainbow or king stag beetle. Both of the picture show females. plenty of info on web about these a commonly kept, i have a breeding pair at moment. hope this helps

Dear Dixiedoo2,
Thanks for the differing opinion.  Interestingly, the Bunyipco Stag Beetle site did not identify the King Stag Beetle by its scientific name.  The Insect Company website has an image of a pair with this information:  “This is possibly the most attractive of all the Stag Beetles with it’s irridescent green sheen. It is not a common beetle in the North Australian Rain Forest where it lives. The females lay their eggs in very specific types of rotten timber on the forest floor. Specimens will occasionally come to ultra violet lights just after dusk. The hour just after dusk seems to be this insects main flight time.”
Those interested in raising this lovely beetle may want to reference the InsectaCulture Breeding Report we found online.  YouTube has a video of the beetles in the wild.

Update from Elizabeth
Dear bugpersons,
hi, I’m having trouble navigating the WTB comments section hence the reply email.
First, thanks for the ID on my not-a-Christmas-beetle.  I was thrilled to see it up on the site and really impressed that you could work out so quickly it was not at all what I have always thought it was.  I think you are right and the beastie is (was) a Golden Green Stag Beetle.  Dixiedoo2 is wrong: (1) it was found in Melbourne, not the Far North Queensland rainforest, and as I have seen a fair number of them down here in my lifetime it’s a bit hard to think they were all lost.  (2) They’re common enough for southern schoolkids to know about them, P. Muelleri is described as rare.  (3)  I saw the damn thing and had it clinging to my finger for fifteen minutes.  It did not look anything like any photo I’ve found of either a male or a female Phalacrognathus Muelleri.  It looked a heck of a lot like the images of golden-green stag beetles I found on the web after your reply.  (4) It was approx 15-20mm long, not the 24-45mm cited by various sites for female length.  (5) Colouration was light iridescent goilden-green, dame texture on thorax and back. P. Muelleri looks like it can be quite dark and has a pinkish tinge to its carapace; the throrax is dull and the back extremely shiny.  (6) Mandibles of female P. muelleri are squat and thick, on the specimen I found they were slender.
BTW the photos are of the same animal, once on my hand immediately after rescue and once after release on a tree, so of course both show a beetle of the same gender, whatever that is. This is pretty clear if you lok at the water droplets visible in each photo.
Thankyou.  I feel better now.

Hi Elizabeth,
Thanks for all the additional information, and we are sorry the comment option on our website is problematic.

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Location: Melbourne, Australia

7 Responses to Stag Beetle from Australia: Lamprima aurata

  1. dixiedoo2 says:

    This beetle is a Phalacrognathus Muelleri, commonly known as rainbow or king stag beetle. Both of the picture show females. plenty of info on web about these a commonly kept, i have a breeding pair at moment. hope this helps

  2. drtjhawkeswood says:

    I confirm that the photos are of Lamprima aurata (Coleoptera: Lucanidae)

    Photos and biological information on this species have been reviewed in Beetles of Australia and in papers 228 and 362 available as free pdf files from my website

    Thank you, Trevor

  3. mardikavana says:

    This is a male Lamprima aurata not P. muelleri. I was quite amused when I read the the comments. It is like a war. Elizabeth L. aurata is not a damn thing but a beautiful beetle.

  4. Kan says:

    This guy is not Rainbow Stag Beetle. It is Golden Stag Beetle(Lamprima latreillii ).

    More photos of this beautiful insects can be found here

  5. Allen Sundholm says:

    It is definitely not Phallocragnathus latrielle which is endemic to the rainforests of northern Queensland, and is not rare. In fact it is commonly bred for sale in Japan, as an internet search will reveal.
    This is currently Lamprima aurata, however the genus Lamprima is being revised (as it is a taxonomic mess) and it is hoped that the paper sorting everything out once and for all will be published this year (2016).
    All the best,
    Allen Sundholm

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