are likely one of the most easily recognisable families due to their
striking colours. During the warmer months these beetles are often
seen on the flowers of trees and shrubs. They are small to large
beetles and range in size from 3 to 65 millimetres in length. They
have an elongated body shape which tapers towards the abdomen and
a short head, which fits closely into the broader thorax. They have
large eyes and short antennae and can retract their legs against
their body for protection. Some jewel beetles when disturbed will
tuck their antennae and legs into their body and drop to the ground
as a defence against predators. The elytra are tough and longitudinally
grooved and usually brightly coloured, sometimes metallic.
While most adults
are nectar feeders (especially on Eucalyptus blossoms) or leaf feeders,
the larvae are wood borers, feeding on the sapwood under the bark
of native trees and shrubs. A few species are also known to be leaf
miners or gall forming species. Larvae look like fleshy, white,
legless grubs with strong mandibles. They pupate inside the wood
of the host plant and when ready to emerge the adults bore their
way to the outside. On emerging the adults feed, mate and then die
in a relatively short time. The life span of jewel beetles is short
and depending on the species, adult beetles may live for just one
or two days up to about two weeks.
have in the past been used by native people as jewellery and ornaments
because of their bright colours.
The jewel beetle
genus Melobasis has many hard to identify species which can be found
across country. Most adult and larval stages of Melobasis are
associated with Acacia, with adults occasionally found among the blossoms.
The larvae of this group can be found tunnelling in Acacia branches.
For more jewel
beetle species visit the Australian
Insect Common Names.