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What insect is this?
Location: Toowoomba Queensland Australia
January 20, 2011 3:47 am
Hi I was outside about to hang the clothes when I saw this strange peculiar insect on the line? I never seen such a funny looking insect with these big antennas. I thought it was such a wonderful looking thing that I had to grab the camera to get this on film. Lucky it was still there when I returned I was so delighted to see such an insect I have been so curious to find out what it was? Could you possibly know what it is? This was outside in Toowoomba Queensland Australia. Thank you.
Signature: Dazed and Amazed

Feather Horned Beetle

Dear Dazed and Amazed,
Those are some impressive antennae on this aptly named Feather Horned Beetle,
Rhipicera femoralis, in the family Rhipiceridae.  This is a new species, new family and new category for our website.  We identified your Feather Horned Beetle on the Life Unseen website which has some nice photos, but no information.  According to the Ausscape International Photo Library website, the Feather Horned Beetle is also called the Fan Horned Beetle.  One of the nicest images of the Feather Horned Beetle is on the Patti Flynn Soapmaker blogCsiro Entomology has the most information available to the general web browsing public, including:  “This small family has not been well studied in Australia and as a result little is known of their biology and ecology. There are only 6 species of Rhipiceridae in Australia and all belong to the genus Rhipicera. Adults range in size from 10 to 25 millimetres in length and can be recognised by their large fan-like antennae. The antennae of males are unusual in that they have more than 20 segments and arise from small knob-like prominences. Most species are grey-black in colour with white spots on the elytra and pronotum, formed by patches of hair.  The larvae of Australian species is unknown and in North America Sandalus niger is the only known rhipicerid larva. This larval species is grub-like and lightly sclerotised, with conical shaped antennae consisting of just one segment. The first instar are triungulin-like, meaning they appear similar to the larvae of blister beetles (Meloidae) which are long-legged and parasitic. The later instars are ectoparasitic on the nymphs of cicadas. It is thought the first instars of Sandalus niger attach themselves to the cicada nymphs before they enter the soil.”  If the closest relatives found in North America (see BugGuide) are known as Cicada Parasite Beetles, it might be deduced that the same might be true of the Australian members of the family since Australia has such a robust population of Cicadas.

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What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
Location: Australia

12 Responses to Feather Horned Beetle from Australia

  1. kbobridg says:

    I saw one of these on my clothes line this morning! (they must like clothes lines) I was so amazed I watched it for over half an hour and took some great photos. Shame so little is known about them.

    Kelly, Western Australia

    • bugman says:

      Hi Kelly,
      We would love to post some of your photos. Please submit them by going to the “Ask WTB?” link on our website and submitting the form.

  2. kalamadae says:

    I’ve just found what looks like a variation in color to this species and a female, so she doesnt have those impressive antennae the males sport but is still rather impressive. Been hunting down info on what these eat particularly and their distribution etc. Quite an active creature but non aggressive. Mistook it to start with as a species of weevil due to the odd mouthparts and antennae.

  3. georgie stubbs says:

    We have these feather horn beetles at Mt Martha on the Mornington peninsula ,Victoria.
    Usually around Feb/March
    They seem to like the tea tree
    I have also seen some with straight antennae with little bits about 1mm sticking up vertically along the main part-I have wondered if they are females with the males having the feathery antennae
    They are easy to catch as they fly relatively slowly and seem to hang in the air with the body hanging down.
    You can put your hand in front of them and they land on it
    i took one into our supermarket to show people how beautiful they are
    I was in Airey’s Inlet on the great ocean road last week and saw one flying there to my excitement
    I have seen a pamphlet about the grasslands north of Melbourne where they are part of the ecology
    They are my favourite beetle!!

  4. J says:

    I have seen them near flame trees in Margaret River, Western Australia. They have a red body with white spots.

  5. Kerry Goss says:

    We have them near Kingston S.E. S.A…..They love the exhaust on the tractor that I drive. Funny little bugs.

  6. Linda says:

    We are at Cowes, Vic and have observed these beetles in our road reserve, paperbark, tea-tree hedge over recent years. Currently, there are approx. 20 beetles which drift in and amongst the tea-tree branches but also move further out to above the roadway where there are eucalypts on the road reserve opposite. I have been trying to determine their activity time. It seems that they appear mid to late morning – but only in very still conditions on a sunny day. Within a couple of hours they have retreated to wherever they rest and they do not return for the remainder of the day. I noticed that they sometimes bump into twigs so perhaps their eyesight is poor. They also hover towards the observer as if about to land, but then avoid contact. There is a cluster of small holes in the soil below where the beetles are observed and I wonder if this site is related to how the beetles emerge.

  7. Jackie says:

    I have these amazing creatures breeding in my back yard at the moment. Mine also sit on the clothes line. I was able to stand right next to a male at eye level, and he was literally sitting there looking around for about 20 minutes. Foothills of Perth Western Australia.

  8. Tania says:

    I have also seen this creature on my washing line twice, the second time in my backyard in the western suburbs of Perth on Friday, 18 May 2018 where he walked along the line like a champion! They must love washing lines to balance on and survey their territory.

  9. Rose says:

    I just found one on my washing line today, Perth Western Australia. First time in my 55 years I’ve ever seen one. Took a wonderful photo of him then googled him. 21st April 2019

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