Mating Soldier Beetles in England

Subject:  For Bug Love
Location:  sorry… Magdalen Hill
August 18, 2016
For Bug Love

Mating Soldier Beetles
Mating Soldier Beetles

Dear Clare,
These are mating Soldier Beetles, and there is not a high enough resolution in your image to be certain of the species.  We located several similar looking species on Nature Spot, and regarding the species
Cantharis cryptica, Nature Spot indicates:  “7 to 8.5 mm. An orange/brown beetle with black rings above the ‘knees’ and all-yellow palps. There are several similar species and precise identification may need detailed examination.”  Another possible species is Cantharis rufa, and Nature Spot indicates:  “Length 9 – 11 mm. This soldier beetle is largely all orange but sometimes there is a black mark on the pronotum which is quite square looking and doesn’t reach to the front border (extending just over half way). The legs may be be pale or dark but with contrasting ‘knees’ in both cases.  Similar Species:  This species is larger than the similar Cantharis cryptica and C. pallida – both of which are 7-8mm in length. Rhagonycha translucida lacks the blacks knees and has a pronotum that narrows towards the head.”  Of the similar looking Cantharis pallida, Nature Spot indicates:  “They are frequent visitors to thistles and umbelliferous flowers, where they probably prey on other flower-feeding insects.”  That is a thistle in your image.  Finally, we could not rule out the larger Common Red Soldier Beetle, Rhagonycha fulva, and Nature Spot states:  “A very common beetle throughout most of Britain.”  After all that, we hope a family identification will suffice.

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