Tuesday, February 5, 2013

What's Green, Tasmanian And Probably Isn't Endangered?

The Miena Jewel Beetle! (Castiarina insculpta)

The MJB: Giving extinction rumours the finger since 2004!
It's only tenuously related to politics, as a classic case of threatened species being considered firstly extinct and then endangered when in practice hardly anything is known about it - a problem which pads threatened species lists (especially Tasmania's) with unjustified or exaggerated listings, creates "green tape" and distorts conservation priorities.  The problem is, of course, that many of these species do not even become the focus of serious research attention until they are listed.  And even so, much of the research is done on an amateur basis, as it was in the recent first known find of the species in numbers, in which I was involved.  In fact, I found the first one of several found by our group faster than I could spot an 11% swing to Andrew Wilkie in the Sandfly Polling Booth!   You can see a rather low quality camera-video shot by me and read some more text about it here.  More pictures (by people who know how to use a camera!) on the Tasmanian Field Naturalists Club Flickr page here.

This post represents my own opinions  facts only.

Update (1 Mar):  See the ABC TV news item here.  Further searches through February have continued to reveal good numbers.  I can add that there was one other live sighting in recent times - by a very experienced entomologist who seems to have never drawn any public attention to the sighting or logged it, but fortunately, he did one day casually mention it to me.  It was at that site where we first found the species, but we've found it to be quite widespread in the area.


  1. hello Bonham, Harper here - enjoying the blog. I shall be returning now and again to sift through this during what promises to be one of the most tawdry and wretched election campaigns in living memory.

  2. Hey SleepyCat, Perko here. Coincidence only that I'm commenting on the same post as Andrew.

    We have a shack at Miena and I've hiked extensively in the area and I'm sure that I've seen good amounts of these over the last 20 years or so. I feel like an ignorant hick for not bothering to look them up.

    What is their normal habitat on the mountain? I've seen them reasonably widespread but I only dare to go on longer walks in mild weather up there.

  3. Their habitat is on a "daisy bush" called Ozothamnus hookeri, a shrub with dense small off-whitish flowers that grows to a couple of metres high. The shrub tends to grow on the more open treeless plains (eg around Liawenee) but also sometimes in the understorey of the eucalypt woodlands. There's quite a lot of it up there.

    There are other species of jewel beetle that are greenish with usually more orange markings and can also be in the area (although we found far more Miena Jewel Beetles than any of the others). A good character for picking MJBs from some of the others, apart from the colour pattern with the six yellow blotches, is the sharp points on the tail end of the wing covers.

    If anyone sees any next summer and wants to send me any photos I'd be happy to check them.