RUTELINAE , SCARABAEIDAE , COLEOPTERA
(Photo: courtesy of Dany Elachi , Sydney)
These grubs are not true Caterpillars, but are the larvae various types of beetles in the subfamily RUTELINAE. The grubs all look alike: white, with a pale brown head, and a dark rear end. When they get upset they adopt a curled shape like the letter 'C'. They are found under the ground where they feed on various roots. They grow to a length up to 4 cms.
The adult beetles are very varied in appearance, from brown to green, with a length of 2 to 3 cms. One beetle of this family, familiar to people in Queensland and New South Wales, is the Christmas beetle : Anoplognathus olivieri.
The grubs are inclined to make a lawn spongy, burrowing around after the grass roots. They are a great pest on Sugar Cane plantations, and the Cane Toad was originally imported into Australia in the hope that it would control them. Sadly the Cane Toad didn't, and is now a pest in its own right. The best control is probably Bandicoots. They dig up the grubs. Sadly they don't fill up their holes afterwards. But you cannot have everything.
Further reading :
The Best of Wildlife in the Suburbs,
Oxford University Press Australia 1993, pp. 17-21.
(updated 4 August 2007, 17 April 2013, 1 May 2014)