Millenium bug found by CSIRO scientists

It's the moment the world has been waiting for. Taxonomists at CSIRO Entomology have announced the discovery of the "real" Millennium Bug.

Head of the Australian National Insect Collection, Dr Ebbe Nielsen, reports that the bug, a small water strider, is harmless to computers. "It feeds on flies and other small insects, not files," he says.

Found at altitude in mountain streams of southeast Queensland and northeast NSW, this true bug is presently known to exist at only eight localities in that region. At about two millimetres in length, it lives on the surface of the water in quiet areas of freshwater streams.

"The "Millennium Bug" is a 'waiting' predator/scavenger that feeds on small insects," Dr Nielsen explains.

The bug's actual scientific name cannot be made public until international procedures for scientific naming are complete, but both its scientific and common names will be the "Millennium Bug".

The "Millennium Bug" belongs to a new genus of the family Veliidae (small water striders) that scientists Mr Tom Weir of CSIRO Entomology and Dr Nils Mller Andersen of the Zoological Museum, University of Copenhagen will describe in a scientific paper to be published shortly in the Australian journal Invertebrate Taxonomy.

"Inland freshwater is one of Australia's most important and precious resources, in terms of planning our future," Dr Nielsen says. "Protecting it is one of the great challenges we face in the new Millennium."

"The reason I asked Dr Andersen, who is the world authority on this group of insects, and Mr Weir to work on water striders is so we can use them to monitor the quality of freshwater all over Australia.

"Insects are very fine instruments for indicating the biological health of their environment. The goal here was to identify the various species of small water striders so we know exactly what they can tell us about the health of our streams and waterbodies."

Bugs from the Veliidae family are often f

Contact: Julian Cribb
CSIRO Australia

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