Bugged out in Birdland
June 8, 2010
We are in East Central Illinois and it is June 8th. I found these bugs swarming all over the ground and up the birdbath. I stepped over to see them and they started up my leg as well. My husband thought they were lightning bugs but I think not. Can someone id this crawler/flyer and should I be concerned? The birds don’t like them either.
Marcia in Birdland
East Central Illinois

Margined Leatherwing

Hi Marcia,
Thank you for your descriptive letter and wonderful images including the mating behavior
of the Margined Leatherwings, Chauliognathus marginatus.  According to BugGuide:  “Very similar to C. pennsylvanicus, but pronotum has wide dark band, instead of an irregular dark spot. Elytra of C. marginatus often more extensively dark than pennsylvanicus. C. marginatus is also somewhat smaller and is active earlier in summer than C. pennsylvanicus.”  Chauliognathus pennsylvanicus is known as the Goldenrod Soldier Beetle, and it makes its appearance in September when the goldenrod is blooming.  The adults feed on nectar and pollen, and possibly aphids, but the larvae are considered beneficial predators.  Your observation that birds don’t eat them is interesting, and it may be related to a foul taste.  Interesting, according to BugGuide regarding the family name Chntharidae:  “The compound cantharidin is named for this group of beetles, presumably, but was actually isolated from blister beetles, Meloidae–at that time presumably the family was included with the Cantharidae.”  We are setting your wonderful letter and photographs to post live to our website between June 15 and June 22 when we will be visiting mom and working in her garden.  That way our readership can get daily updates while we are out of the office.

Mating Margined Leatherwings

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