Ms Johnson discovers the meaning of CHRISTMAS BEETLES

Kelly’s Field Notes

Common Name: Christmas Beetle

Order: Coleoptera

Family: Scarabaeidae

Genera: Anoplognathus and Calloodes

Species of Note (There are around 36 species of Christmas beetle!):


Christmas beetles are native to Australia and South Africa, with higher concentrations along the coast of eastern Australia. They come in a variety of metallic colors - grays, greens, and browns. Christmas beetles get their name because they love to swarm around Christmas lights during the holiday season. Christmas beetles are fairly large as adults, from 2 to 3 cm (0.8 - 1.2 in) in length. Like many big beetles, they are clumsy fliers.

Life Cycle: 

Christmas beetle eggs are oviposited (laid) directly into soil near eucalyptus trees. The larvae will remain in the soil for about a year, eating decaying organic matter and plant roots. Then they will move towards the surface of the soil and pupate, emerging after a few weeks, often during December, hence the common name. As adults they not only enjoy eucalyptus, they can become a nuisance defoliating entire trees. The adults live for about a month. 

Super Powers:

Christmas Beetles in Culture:


“Christmas Beetle.” Australia Museum,

“Christmas Beetle Count Project.” University of Sydney,

Reid, Chris. “Where Have All the Christmas Beetles Gone?” Australia Museum,

Common Name: Greater Purple Hairstreak and Johnson’s Hairstreak

Order: Lepidoptera

Family: Lycaenidae (Gossamer-winged butterflies)

Genus:  Atlides, Callophrys

Species: Atlides halesus, Callophrys johnsoni


Johnson’s hairstreak is overall brown in color but the greater purple hairstreak is a striking iridescent purple on the upper side of its wings. The underside is a sort of dusky purple. Johnson’s hair streak has a smaller winglenth, at 3.2 - 3.5 cm (1- 1.2 in) compared to the 3.3 - 3.8 cm (1.3 - 1.5 in) wingspan of the greater purple hairstreak. 

Life Cycle: 

Both butterflies depend on mistletoe for their survival. The greater purple hairstreak is the only butterfly in the U.S. that feeds on American mistletoe (Phoradendron leucarpum) and Johnson’s hairstreak feeds on the western species, dwarf mistletoe species (Arceuthobium spp.). Both lay their eggs on the leaves of the mistletoe and when the larvae hatch they eat their fill. As they eat they take up toxins from the mistletoe to use to protect themselves from predators. Interestingly, they do not use bright coloration to warn predators, instead they resemble mistletoe in pattern and color. It takes about 20 days to go from larva to pupa. The pupal stage lasts about 16 days. The adults drink nectar from the mistletoe flowers. Hairstreak adults live for about a month

Super Powers:

Mistletoe in Culture:


Andrews, Evan. “Why Do We Kiss under the Mistletoe?” HISTORY, 24 Dec. 2013,

“Great Purple Hairstreak.” Wikipedia, 21 Sept. 2022, Accessed 17 Nov. 2023.

“Johnson’s Hairstreak Callophrys Johnsoni (Skinner, 1904) | Butterflies and Moths of North America.”, Accessed 17 Nov. 2023.

“Mistletoe Science and Folklore.” MSU Extension, 17 Dec. 2015, Accessed 17 Nov. 2023.

“Not Just for Kissing: Mistletoe and Birds, Bees, and Other Beasts | U.S. Geological Survey.”, Accessed 17 Nov. 2023.

‌Whittaker, Paul L. "POPULATION BIOLOGY OF THE GREAT PURPLE HAIRSTREAK, ATLIDES HALES US, IN TEXAS (L YCAENIDAE)." Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 38.3 (1984): 179-185.