Jewels of the Beetle World - Kevin Mitchell

Melobasis azureipennis web.jpg

2 February - 18 March 2023

Beetles are the most diverse and abundant animal group found on Earth. Currently they number nearly 500,000 name species worldwide, however, their estimated actual number is of a degree far greater than this.

Beetles constitute the order Coleoptera, within which there are currently 160 families, the majority of which occur in Australia. The images depicted here, photographed by Kevin Mitchell, represent examples of a single family  -  the Buprestidae, commonly called ‘Jewel beetles’. They rank as the eighth largest family of Coleoptera, comprising about 15,000 species.

Buprestidae have a cosmopolitan distribution. Most have an elongate form yet vary greatly in size from barely 3mm in length to greater than 70mm. The Australian fauna is a rich one and to date more than 12,000 species have been documented. Most are found nowhere else. Many are brightly coloured, and though various species are to be found throughout the continent the richest regions are the east coast and southwest Western Australia.

Numerous species, such as the majority depicted here, can be found in spring and summer on the flowers of eucalypt trees and related flowering plants. There they feed on nectar and form part of a diverse assemblage of insect visitors that fulfil the role of pollinators.