Bug plague hits the city

A handful of the Dytiscidae beetles that have appeared in their thousands around Bundaberg.
A handful of the Dytiscidae beetles that have appeared in their thousands around Bundaberg. Scottie Simmonds

IN the past week Bundaberg has looked like a scene straight out of an Alfred Hitchcock movie, with thousands of beetles plaguing brightly lit areas after sundown.

The swarm of beetles, some more than 5cm long, are coming out at night and showing no mercy as they latch on to buildings, cars and anything that looks like a good habitat.

Bugs for Bugs director and entomologist Dan Papacek identified the creepy crawlies as belonging to the Dytiscidae family.

He said they were more commonly known as water beetles, which bred and lived in shallow water areas, such as ponds, dams and slow-moving water.

“The recent rain has created an ideal habitat in many of the marshy and low-lying areas around Bundaberg,” Mr Papacek said.

“There is a lot of opportunity to breed because of extra ponds and water areas.”

Although water beetles are harmless to humans, they come in droves and are hard to dodge in the open air.

Mr Papacek said the beetles in their young stages spent their lives in watery habitats.

“They’re predators who feed on other insects and other small aquatic life forms,” he said.

“The adults can emerge in large numbers at times and are very much attracted to bright lights.”

Mr Papacek said a combination of warm weather and recent rain was responsible for the sudden swarm.

“They go out at night to look for new habitats and places to breed,” he said.

Mr Papacek said the good news was the sudden plague of beetles would be short-lived.

“From time to time you get an event like this,” he said.

Bundaberg Regional Council health and environment director Greg Savage said he was not aware of any complaints about the beetles.

He said they were not deemed to be a council issue unless they had a health effect on people.

“If it’s just an explosion of a natural bug which is not a public health risk, we wouldn’t be involved,” Mr Savage said.

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