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

Bee with spotted wings?
Location: Northern Illinois
August 11, 2011 7:31 pm
I was photographing this butterfly, when this bee looking insect flew into the frame. I can’t figure out what it is? The tail looks like a bee, but the wings are something I have never seen before.
Signature: Britt

Viceroy and Goldenrod Soldier Beetle

Hi Britt,
This is a positively gorgeous action photo of a Viceroy Butterfly and a Goldenrod Soldier Beetle,
Chauliognathus pensylvanicus.  The beetles are commonly associated with goldenrod.  You were quite fortunate that the beetle flew into area encompassed by the very shallow depth of field in your image.  You can read more about the Goldenrod Soldier Beetle on BugGuide.

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Red Soldier Beetle?
Location: Canada, July, mostly in warm weather
July 10, 2011 7:42 pm
Hi!
Found your site when trying to ID a beetle I’ve been seeing on my Potentilla shrubs; they don’t really venture anywhere else. After looking around your site I thought they looked the most like ”Common Red Soldier Beetles” but with a wider black strip. However your site seems to indicate that those beetles are carnivorous and the ones I’ve seen, which I’ve been observing for days, seem to be after nectar while ignoring other insects. It was late and getting dark when I realized I should take a picture for you… sorry!
P.S. Thanks for your ”unnecessary carnage” tag… I’ve been trying to convince people not to go around squashing animals forever. -_-
Signature: Lisa Sky

Common Red Soldier Beetle

Dear Lisa,
We agree that this is a Common Red Soldier Beetle,
Rhagonycha fulva, and according to BugGuide:  “adults feed on small insects that visit flowers.”  On the family page for Cantharidae, BugGuide notes that:  “Adults eat nectar, pollen, other insects.”  Perhaps there is not complete information on the species page.  The Common Red Soldier Beetle is a species introduced from Europe.

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Help identify this creepy crawler
Location: Simi Valley, ca
May 9, 2011 11:19 am
Hi Bugman,
Please help! We’ve noticed a large amount of these flying insects on a nightly basis since it has warmed up in the area. In 13 years, I’ve never seen these bugs before & they’re highly attracted to the light. I’m not a fan of any bugs & besides being gross, is there anything I need to know about these creepy crawlies?
I’d appreciate your help!!
Signature: Monique

Brown Leatherwing

Dear Monique,
The Brown Leatherwing is a harmless, beneficial species.  They seem to be appearing in prodigious numbers across the state of California this year, which prompted us to declare them the Bug of the Month for May, a feature posting that you somehow missed when you visited our website where it is prominently featured on our homepage.  Brown Leatherwings are attracted to lights, so keeping the porch light turned off will keep them from coming to your home.

Thank you so much! We have been keeping all outside lights off & it seems to help! Not sure how I missed the Bug of the Month, but I will check it out again!
I appreciate your quick reply!!
Monique

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Brown Leatherwing Beetle
Location: Northern California
May 3, 2011 3:03 am
Dear Bugman,
I have noticed a different kind of bug hanging around my house and was very curious on what kind of bug it was. I took a picture of this bug and started researching the bug. I located the identification of the bug on your web page; Brown Leatherwing Beetle. I would like to know what this beetle likes to eat and if it will harm or damage anything? I would also like to know where the beetle likes to lay it’s eggs?
Signature: ~Mel

Brown Leatherwing

Hi Mel,
The Brown Leatherwing,
Pacificanthia consors, is a common California species, and this year they seem to be more numerous.  They are also attracted to lights, so they are frequently encountered by humans, however, our typical sources, BugGuide and the Insects of the Los Angeles Basin, a book by Charles Hogue, do not provide information on the life cycle, though both agree that this is not a harmful species.  We did locate some wonderful information on the Pacific Horticulture website.  Frédérique Lavoipierre, Garden Ecologist writes:  “In his detailed and fascinating 1964 book, Beneficial Insects, Lester Swan comments on several beneficial species of soldier beetles and their associated prey, then notes that, unfortunately, they have not been studied extensively. Not much has changed in the ensuing four decades. ‘Oh, those! I have them in my garden, but I didn’t know they were beneficial,’ is the now familiar response when I point them out to garden visitors. Yet soldier beetles surely warrant the same recognition given to lady beetles and lacewings. In suitable habitat, they are a reliable and valuable ally. It is far easier to supply ideal living conditions for soldier beetles in gardens than in agricultural fields. This lack of potential for commercial use may help explain why soldier beetles have been so little studied, despite a voracious appetite for aphids, caterpillars, grasshopper eggs, mites, and other small pests. They are even reputed to attack cucumber beetles—reason enough for gardeners to agree that soldier beetles deserve further study!”  We are thoroughly charmed by the Pacific Horticulture website, and we fear for the longevity of information that is provided on the internet because websites come and go.  At the risk of getting dinged for copyright infringement, we feel compelled to directly quote more of the information provided by Frédérique Lavoipierre including this information on mating rituals:  “The female soldier beetle sometimes attracts hordes of males with the pheromones she emits, but generally only one male is successful. Most beetles don’t engage in elaborate courtship behaviors, but some soldier beetle males may ‘nibble’ females. Considering that soldier beetles usually only mate once, when there are a lot of these beetles in the garden, there seems to be a lot of ‘nibbling’ taking place! Since each female has a huge supply of eggs, building up good garden populations need not take a long time. The nocturnal larvae hatch in spring and are found in damp areas beneath rocks, in leaf litter, or under bark, where they prey on insects and other small organisms. A year or more after hatching, the larvae pupate and emerge as adults.
Soldier beetles have a varied diet, feeding on aphids and other homopterans, grasshopper eggs, caterpillars, root maggots and other soft-bodied insects. Many genera of soldier beetles, such as Cantharis, Podabrus, and Pacificanthia, are primarily carnivorous in both the larval and adult stage, but a few are minor pests in the larval stage, feeding on roots. Larvae primarily eat eggs and larvae of beetles, moths, grasshoppers, and other insects. Adults are frequently found on a variety of flowers, where they feed on pollen and nectar in addition to insect prey such as aphids and mealybugs. Because they are generalist predators, soldier beetles may also eat beneficial insects, such as lacewing larvae and aphids that have been parasitized by wasps.”  Finally, the Pacific Horticulture website provides this sage gardening wisdom:  “Encouraging a resident population of soldier beetles is easy in gardens. Choose suitable flowers to bloom over a long season. Any habitat garden must include a water source; soldier beetles are particularly known to frequent moist habitats. It is important to the life cycle of soldier beetles (and many other beneficial organisms) that they have undisturbed, mulched soil in which to pupate, so include permanent perennial plantings in gardens. A fragile and important community thrives at the interface between soil and organic matter. In permanent plantings, avoid raking and add organic material to the surface of the beds as needed to keep the soil in good fertility.”

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Mating brown leatherwing beetles
Location: SF Bay Area
May 3, 2011 12:00 am
Although I was able to identify these with the help of your fantastic website, I thought you might like to see the pictures I took today since not much is known about these beetles. They are in one rosy buckwheat subshrub by the HUNDREDS (and from a closer look at the photos, ensuring future posterity with gusto). I was very relieved to affirm they are beneficial insects. Thank you so much for all your hard work!
Signature: Colleen Clark

Mating Brown Leatherwings

Hi Colleen,
Thanks for your kind compliments and your awesome photos of Brown Leatherwings, formerly
Cantharis consors.  They are attracted to our own porch lights each spring and we have been meaning to document their activity because it seems to us their numbers are more numerous this year.  We also thought of making them the Bug of the Month for May, but in an impulsive moment, we decided to feature a Black Click Beetle instead, but we are having second thoughts.  We have decided to demote the Black Click Beetle from the feature section and replace it with your submission.  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 prye on other insects.”  BugGuide provides the taxonomic change to the name, now accepted as Pacificanthia consors, but there is little information on the species nor is there a common name listed.  BugGuide does provide somewhat more information on the family page, including:  “Adults mostly on vegetation, often on flowers; larvae in leaf litter, loose soil, rotten wood, etc” and  “Adults eat nectar, pollen, other insects; larvae are fluid-feeding predators, feed on insect eggs and larvae.”  More detailed information on the Brown Leatherwing may be located at the Pacific Horticulture website.

Brown Leatherwings

Dear Bugman,
I am amazed, and appreciative, at the speed with which you were able to reply to my email, and am honored that you chose to post the pictures.  Bug of the month, Woo-whoo!  Just this past weekend we had over 400 people through our suburban garden as a part of the east bay “Bringing Back the Natives” tour, we (a neighbor and fellow native garden enthusiast and I) were also interviewed and spotlighted in the local paper.  But I have to say, being posted on WTB bests it all.  Huge Fan!  Thanks!
-Colleen

Frederique Lavoipierre Comments
Soldier Beetles in Pacific Horticulture
Website: www.sonoma.edu/preserves
May 18, 2011 9:05 am
How delightful to find my article on soldier beetles featured on one of my favorite bug websites! No worries about copyright infringement with all those links to Pacific Horticulture Most of my Garden Allies articles are available online – hey, how about tachinid flies for ‘insect of the month’? If you want to see the first four articles, I can email text, or there is a booklet available with the first dozen Garden Allies articles and articles on creating habitat for beneficial insects ($10). Proceeds benefit the Sonoma State University Entomology Outreach Program.
Signature: Frederique Lavoipierre

Hi Frederique,
Thanks for the compliment.  The next time a beautiful photo of a Tachinid Fly is sent to us, we will prepare a Bug of the Month feature at your suggestion.  The texts you are offering would be an excellent addition at that time.

The tachinid article, like the soldier beetle article, gathers together information that is rarely available to the general gardening public. The expert on tachinids who I consulted (all my articles are vetted by specialists in the field), John Stireman, was thrilled beyond measure that tachinids were going to get some popular press exposure. I will work on my tachinid photography; I see them on my insectary flowers all the time.
Here’s a link to a beautiful tachinid in my garden – not at all the typical bristly specimen!
Frederique

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Porch light redheads
Location: Highland Park (Northeast Los Angeles)
April 30, 2011 1:21 am
A bunch of these guys just showed up around our porch light. They don’t do much. We never noticed them here before.
Signature: Josh

Brown Leatherwing

Hi Josh,
Greetings from neighboring Mt Washington.  Thank you so much for supplying this image of a Brown Leatherwing, formerly
Cantharis consors.  They are attracted to our own porch lights each spring and we have been meaning to document their activity because it seems to us their numbers are more numerous this year.  Here is what Charles Hogue wrote 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 prye on other insects.”  BugGuide provides the taxonomic change to the name, now accepted as Pacificanthia consors, but there is little information on the species nor is there a common name listed.  BugGuide does provide somewhat more information on the family page, including:  “Adults mostly on vegetation, often on flowers; larvae in leaf litter, loose soil, rotten wood, etc” and  “Adults eat nectar, pollen, other insects; larvae are fluid-feeding predators, feed on insect eggs and larvae.”  We will try to flesh out this posting a bit more if we are able to locate any specific information on the Brown Leatherwing.  While this is probably a more appropriate candidate for our May Bug of the Month, we couldn’t resist posting a photo of an unidentified Click Beetle that we also found at our Mt Washington location.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination