Beetles infest Sunshine Coast pool

Cotton Tree pool manager Mike Vidulich with just some of the bugs that flew in overnight.
Cotton Tree pool manager Mike Vidulich with just some of the bugs that flew in overnight. Jason Dougherty

ONE described it as a scene from Ripley’s Believe It or Not, another called it Armageddon as a plague of beetles infested a popular swimming pool yesterday.

Swimmers at the Cotton Tree Aquatic Centre could not believe their eyes when they arrived for their early morning workout and found they had to share lanes with “hundreds” of beetles.

Gwenda Tudman has swum there at 5.30am for years, but decided to forego the pleasure because of the beetle “plague” that swimming pool attendants were desperately trying to remove with a bucket.

“We were unable to swim, or at least chose not to, because of a plague of large swimming beetles in the water,” she said.

The sound of the beetles dropping on to the roof was like “hail” falling from the sky.

Hours later Tim Sheridan was doing laps in the 25-metre enclosed pool when he noticed what he thought was a “giant cockroach” swimming next to him.

When he lifted his head to investigate, he saws hundreds of them – coming out of the pool lane ropes or just appearing in the water..

The swimmer next to him had one “clinging to his chest hairs”. He found another “biting my arm”.

“All of a sudden I could see them everywhere, it was like a scene from Ripley’s Believe It or Not,” Mr Sheridan said.

“It was freaky, I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Swimming pool manager Michael Vidulich was at a loss to explain the sudden infestation, something he too had never seen before.

“We had a few on Tuesday, but nothing like this morning,” he said.

The beetles were collected in a bucket and Mr Vidulich planned to transfer them to the Maroochydore River.

“I can’t work out why they were in the pool. It’s not like there was any wind to blow them in,” he said.

Queensland Museum senior curator Chris Burwell identified the beetle as Cybister Tripunctatus, or the three-punctured diving beetle. Dr Burwell said the beetles’ arrival was probably a result of pools of water from the floods beginning to dry up and they were in search of new territory.

“They were probably attracted to the pool because of the bright lights at night,” he said.

Dr Burwell said Queensland was experiencing more insect activity because of the floods and hot summer.

But this was the first report of an infestation of diving beetles.

Dr Burwell said while the native insects could bite, they would not do any harm and could be safely moved to another freshwater environment.


Cybister Tripunctatus:

  • average size between 2cm and 2.3ms
  • lives in still waters and found across most of Australia
  • eats insects, tadpoles and even small fish
  • can fly long distances at night, attracted by street lights

Source: Australian Museum

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