Subject: Mystery Beetle in Australia
Geographic location of the bug: Australia
Time: 04:50 PM EDT
I am a highschool senior who is very fascinated by insects. I plan to study entomology in graduate school. So, naturally all of the members of my family send ME bug questions and want bugs identified. I usually can do well on my own, but the latest bug has me stumped.
My uncle’s friend took the picture attached. Unfortunately, the beetle is facing away. They said it was the size of a quarter. Locals called it a “Christmas Beetle”, but I don’t think that is true because Christmas beetles (like Anoplognathus) don’t have the pointed abdomen and long antennae pictured.
If you need more specific geography, I can probably get more details from my uncle, so just ask. Hope you can help!
How you want your letter signed: Confused Nephew
Dear Confused Nephew,
Can you please ask your uncle if there are any images showing the front of this unusual beetle. Our best guess at this time is that this might be a Pleasing Fungus Beetle in the family Erotylidae, and we are basing that on its shape and the antennae. The humpback is a characteristic shared with other Pleasing Fungus Beetles from North and South America. The golden green, metallic coloration of your individual is beautiful. This is NOT a Christmas Beetle, members of the Scarab Beetle family. Our second guess is that it might be a Darkling Beetle in the family Tenebrionidae or a Ground Beetle in the family Carabidae. Perhaps one of our astute readers will be able to assist in this identification. More specific geography might help.
Thanks for the response! I am in the process of getting more information from him right now. I am so glad that I was right about it not being a Christmas beetle. I hope we can figure this out!
Update: December 9, 2017
Cesar Crash led us to this eBay posting that has an obviously misidentified family, but Cesar believed the genus might be correct because of this South American posting on Coleoptera Neotropical and a noting that the family is Chalcodryidae. The Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand indicates that is a new family designation, and if members of the family are found in New Zealand, there is a good chance there are members in Australia. iNaturalist has some images of family members in New Zealand, and Wikipedia indicates the family is classified in the superfamily Tenebrionoidea.