Have you stopped to admire a beetle in Sydney Olympic Park lately? How about thousands?!
Spotted recently on Kronos Hill, an amazing swarm of Soldier Beetles were founding mingling on the trunk of a eucalypt.
Although seen in smaller numbers during spring and autumn, this native species is known to form huge swarms in late summer, particularly after a few good years of rain. Also known as the ‘Plague’ Soldier Beetle, this sight may be alarming, but they are harmless and not devouring the plant they are on – their minds are on a different activity entirely!
These beetles have gathered together to mate and once done, disperse to lay their eggs. The beetle larvae live in the soil and feed on soft-bodied invertebrates. Once mature, the flying adult has a life span of 2-3 months and feeds on nectar and pollen as well as insects.
The Soldier Beetle has a yellow-orange abdomen that is mostly covered by its dark green wings and usually reaches 15mm in length. Although they don’t have a stinger, when handled, this beetle excretes a distasteful fluid from their glands that helps to repel predators.
Like other insects, Soldier Beetles are an important part of the Park’s ecosystem. They keep a check on the insect population they prey on as larvae and provide a pollination service for flowers as adults.