Currently viewing the category: "Soldier Beetles"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Catalina Island bug- what is this?
Location: Catalina Island, CA- west beach
May 6, 2013 7:47 pm
My son and I just came back from an Indian Guides campout on Catalina Island. My son found an insect on the beach that he loved. Broke his heart to put it back on the sand. This week is insect week at his school and he has to pick an insect to report on. We would love to use the one from Catalina but we have no idea what it is. Help Please.
Signature: Curious Dad

Brown Leatherwing

Brown Leatherwing

Dear Curious Dad,
Normally as the most commonly liked posting on our site states, What’s That Bug? will not do your Child’s Homework, but we liked the earnestness of your request, so we will point you in the right direction, and let you do the research.  This is a Brown Leatherwing,
Pacificanthia consors, and it is a common Southern California sighting in May because this Soldier Beetle is often attracted to lights.  We are quite fond of this predatory species since we are located in Southern California in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Mount Washington, so there are numerous postings on our site.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Weird bug I never seen before
Location: San Diego, CA
May 3, 2013 9:37 pm
Dear Sir,
My name is Annabelle and I am 6 years old. Me, my 2 year old brother Hayden, and my cat Fanta found this bug crawling on the wall in my house. It took a while for me and my Daddy to catch him without hurting it. He sure was squirmy. He was tall like a pencil and as long as the size of a quarter. He also liked to play dead when we were taking pictures of him. But boy did he bounce back to his wild ways when we went to set him free.
Signature: Annabelle, Hayden, and Fanta

Brown Leatherwing

Brown Leatherwing

Dear Annabelle, Hayden and Fanta,
My you write well for a six year old.  This is a Brown Leatherwing,
Pacificanthia consors, a species of Soldier Beetle.  Brown Leatherwings are beneficial insects that prey upon smaller creatures in the garden.  They often attract attention along the west coast when they are drawn to lights in May.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: What is this bug and should i be worried???
Location: Valley Center, California
April 29, 2013 10:32 pm
Hi Bugman,
My name is Nathan and these weird bugs have recently entered my house. I live in Valley Center, California ( a couple miles north of San Diego). These bugs have red heads, dark brown (maybe black) bodies, and wings. My little brother is scared of them and i just want to make sure he (and the rest of my family) are in no danger. Thank you for the help!!!
Signature: Nathan Reeve

Brown Leatherwing

Brown Leatherwing

Hi Nathan,
Thanks for sending in this photo.  We have been neglecting taking a photo of the Brown Leatherwings that are attracted to our own porch light each spring.  The Brown Leatherwing,
Pacificanthia consors, is a west coast species that is considered beneficial.  Here is what Charles Hogue wrote of the Brown Leatherwing in Insects of the Los Angeles Basin in our second edition from 1993:  “Adults frequently come to porch lights in the late spring (April to May).  They give off a strong unpleasant musty odor when handled or crushed and may also exude a yellow fluid.  Little else is known of the habits of the adults, and the early stages remain undescribed.  Both are probably ground dwellers that live in plant litter and prey on other insects.”  They pose no danger to you or your family.  Brown Leatherwings appear each spring and remain for approximately six weeks.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Brown Leatherwing Beatle
Location: San Bernadino County, CA
April 14, 2013 1:24 am
Hello bugman, first and foremost I would like to thank you for helping me identify the species, and for the information I have already learned so much from!
There are several brown Leatherwing beetles on my porch tonight.
I know that this is a common time of year for this species, and I know they are attracted to light! I also learned from your site they are very beneficial. Thank you for that!
I was initially curious because all three specimen were on there backs, they appeared to be writhing. I would like to know what’s happening to them. Originally I thought it may be a female hatching her eggs, but after longer examination and further education from Pacific Horticulture, I realized the beetle had yet to produce any eggs (with microscopic examinatio)Also, they’re movement started to slow, they did not die however(at least as of now) and when I tried to flip the beetle over(making sure they weren’t stuck) they put themselves again on their backs, and continued the decreasing writhing!
Do you think something may be wrong? Is this the end of their adult life span(1 year)?
The only other theory I have is that it may have been a female releasing her pheromones?
I know the information is limited, but any additional information you may be able to offer would be much appreciated! I hate to see any living creature suffer, if this is the unfortunate reality!
Thank you again for all the education I gained from your site, including identifying the insect.
Signature: Jaime Nicole

Dying Brown Leatherwing

Dying Brown Leatherwing

Dear Jaime,
Thank you for your kind compliments.  Alas, we don’t know what is troubling your Brown Leatherwings, but they are not acting normally.  They seem to be dying.  Perhaps they were exposed to toxins nearby.  You might have a neighbor who is not as sensitive to the environment as you are.  Adults do not live an entire year.  Their lifespan is probably closer to six weeks, but since this is the start of the season that we generally see them, we don’t think they are dying of old age.

Dying Brown Leatherwing

Dying Brown Leatherwing

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Velvety Caterpillar With a Heart
Location: Rose Hill/Montecito Hts, CA
March 8, 2013 11:51 am
Hi Daniel,
While I have quite a few images I want to send you of many insects I can’t identify I am especially excited to send you this one.
I found him (her?) this morning as I moved my chicken’s snack dish on the ground. I am proud to say that I managed to save this startled soul and fend off four very hungry girls while I whisked him to the safety of my kitchen floor for a photo shoot.
Now this is a fast little bugger – and probably for good reason. I usually find his kind in and around the chicken coop under hay , boards & dishes. More often than not a watchful eye & hungry beak snap them up before I can intervene… they are approximately an inch in length and their heads about the size of a millet seed.
As I type this I am hit with a thought: Soldier Beetle? Yes! I do believe this is a soldier beetle larvae with a lovely heart on it’s back. Can you confirm?
If it’s a soldier beetle it certainly explains their lessening numbers in my back yard since I got the chickens!
Thank you in advance.
PS after the photo shoot I released him into a flower pot on my front porch in a chicken-free zone.
Signature: joAnn

Soldier Beetle Larva

Soldier Beetle Larva

Hi joAnn,
When we first looked at the thumbnail of this creature rolled in a ball, we thought it looked like a Cutworm, which often roll into a ball like this image from BugGuide, and we thought we were going to have to write back to you that you should not have saved if from the chickens if you value your tender garden plants, however, upon seeing the higher resolution images, we agree that this looks like a Soldier Beetle larva based on photos posted in our archive as well as to BugGuide and to pBase.  Considering your location near our own offices, this Soldier Beetle Larva is most likely that of the Brown Leatherwing,
Pacificanthia consors, a species common in our own yard in the spring.  We are tagging this posting with the Bug Humanitarian Award because of your kindness to the lower beasts.

Soldier Beetle Larva

Soldier Beetle Larva

Subject: Velvet Caterpillar Pt 2
Location: Rose Hill/Montecito Hts, CA
March 8, 2013 11:57 am
Hi Daniel,
I realize that I sent you the wrong image – well, they are all images of what I believe is the soldier beetle larvae, but this on in particular has the heart visible.
Best,
Signature: joAnn

Soldier Beetle Larva

Soldier Beetle Larva

Thanks joAnn,
We had already lightened your previous photos and the marking you mentioned is visible, but we will include this image as well.

Hi Daniel,
This is a long overdue email. Life & work got in the way keeping me from a timely response.
Thank you for taking the time to help identify my “velvet caterpillar” I haven’t seen many more of them but I am hopeful that I will still have plenty of beetles later on in the season.
My yard has now moved on to host the latest caterpillar du jour, wooly bears! I will enjoy them while they last 🙂
I love your site and go through it every chance I get.
Kind regards,
joAnn


What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Please identify this insect
Location: Wallan, Victoria. Australia
December 3, 2012 4:39 am
Our gum and bottlebrush trees have been covered with tens of thousands of these green flying insects. Please help with identifying the insect and what are the dangers to our trees.
Thank you in advance.
Signature: Dean and Rose Joyce

Plague Soldier Beetles

Dear Dean and Rose,
We quickly identified your beetles as Plague Soldier Beetles, Chauliognathus lugubris or Chauliognathus pulchellus on the Brisbane Insect website.  The site indicates “Sometimes we found the swarms of Plague Soldier Beetles. The aggregations are believed for the purpose of breeding. Most of them in the aggregation are mating.”  Despite the common name, they are not considered a threat to the plants, though large numbers might be considered a nuisance.  Soldier Beetles, according to the Brisbane Insect family page for Cantharidae:  “are abundant on flowers and foliage where they feed on nectar, pollen, or other small insects.”  Both Gum and Bottlebrush produce pollen, so there is an ample food source on those trees.  Additionally, Soldier Beetles are beneficial as they feed on insects that are injurious to the trees like Aphids and Hoppers.  The Wild World of Pests website states:  “Every spring I marvel at the numbers of insects devoured by soldier beetles.  They’re real troopers in the war on damaging insect in my landscape. … Between the soldier beetles and the ladybugs I don’t have much to worry about, when it comes to aphids.  Soldier beetles, sometimes known as leather backs are voracious feeders.  The larvae are quite efficient at dispatching aphids and other plant pests, including spider mites, grasshopper eggs, gypsy moth caterpillars, eastern tent caterpillars birch leaf miners, elm leaf beetles, oak webworms, lilac leaf miners, cucumber beetle larvae and many more garden pests.  The adults devour large quantities of aphids, but also enjoy nectar and pollen, so it’s a good idea to have lots of flowers around to attract them.” Since the Brisbane Insect website indicates that these large aggregations might be related to mating behavior, we are tagging this posting as Bug Love.

Plague Soldier Beetles

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination