Do Soldier Beetles Bite? Truth Revealed

Beetles are a source of many troubles in pantries and kitchens. But can they also cause harm to you directly? For example, do soldier beetles bite? Let’s find out.

Pollinators are great for the flowers in your garden as they help carry plant pollen and spread it far and wide.

But do you know that frequent visits from pollinators like bees can even damage the precious flowers in your garden?

Yes, it is true: bees can damage your flowers.

But there are some pollinators that cause absolutely no harm to your flowers. One such species is the soldier beetle. In this article, we will learn more about them and their behavior.

Do Soldier Beetles Bite
Soldier Beetle

What Are They?

Soldier beetles are active flying insects that show an average growth of 0.5 inches and have yellow to tannish or dark brown-colored bodies.

These insects look similar to bees and wasps and are often spotted roaming or mating around flowers.

You will be interested to know that these insects are somewhat related to fireflies, but they don’t glow in the dark.

If you look closely, you will notice that the adult beetles have black-colored heads and wing covers that partially cover the body.

The soldier beetle larvae are also black in color, and they look a little like alligators. These larvae show an average growth of 0.75 inches in length.

Common Types of Soldier Beetles

The family of soldier beetles is divided into five categories, and these species are scattered throughout the world.

Asia, Central America, North America, South America, and Oceania are some of the regions where you can find these beetles.

Mentioned below are the five species of soldier beetles:

  1. Chauliognathinae
  2. Cantharinae
  3. Dysmorphocerinae
  4. Silinae
  5. Malthininae

Mating Soldier Beetles

Do They Bite?

Soldier beetles are harmless to humans as they do not bite or attack. These small beetles feed on pollen and nectar.

In fact, due to this habit of theirs, they can be considered good pollinators. Adding to that, they cause no harm or damage to plants or flower beds while feeding as well.

Are They Poisonous/Venomous?

Solider beetles are not harmful to humans. They are not aggressive, and they usually lie down to play dead when they sense danger.

Also, their colorful bodies signal to predators that they are not good in taste, which is why they are not attacked much.

At times they can be mistaken for a wasp or a bee, but they are not the same and will not sting you.

However, you must note that these insects secrete a defensive liquid that makes them appear unappealing to the prey.

Soldier Fly

Are They Harmful or Beneficial?

As mentioned throughout the article, adult soldier beetles are not harmful to humans; these beetles fall in the category of beneficial insects due to their great pollinating abilities.

Since they mostly rely on pollens and nectar to complete their diet, they regularly fall from one another throughout their lifetime. Also they mate around flowers as well.

The beetle larva is also important as it actively consumes the aphids that pose a threat to the valuable plants in your garden.

Due to these qualities, gardeners often create suitable conditions for these beetles to come and live in their gardens.

Soldier Beetle Life Cycle

Soldier beetles have four major stages in their life cycle: eggs, larvae, pupae, and adults. They show complete metamorphosis, unlike many other insects.

 The cycle starts when the female beetles lay their insect eggs in the topsoil—these eggs hatch in about a week.

Once the larvae come out, they live for 1-3 years before starting the pupation process. These larvae spend most of their time under loose bark and debris.

This process occurs in a cell built underground. The adult usually starts emerging in late July, and at times these beetles can have two generations in a year.

Soldier Beetle

Frequently Asked Questions

Are beetles poisonous if they bite you?

Usually, beetle bites are not poisonous to humans, but there is a chance of the bite triggering an allergic reaction in the body.
Some beetle bites can be highly painful and can cause problems like redness, swelling, irritation, and more.

Why are soldier beetles in my house?

You will usually find soldier beetles in your house during the winter when they search for warm spots to survive the cold.
Also, since they are highly attracted by flowers, having fresh flowers inside your house for decoration can lure these beetles in search of pollen and nectar.

How do I get rid of the soldier beetle?

Since soldier beetles are harmless and do not bite, there is no need to take any drastic measures to remove them from your garden.
Moreover, these insects cause no damage to the plants and flowers that they feed on. Just ignore these insects for a while, and they will be gone.

How do I get rid of the soldier beetle?

No soldier beetles are not harmful as they do not sting and bite. Also, these insects are not aggressive and non-poisonous.
Soldier beetles are considered beneficial as they are great pollinators, and they help to get rid of aphids and other soft-bodied insects.

Wrap Up

Soldier beetles are a great addition to your garden as they increase pollination and remove unwanted pests like aphids.

Due to their bold appearance, people might consider them dangerous, but that is completely wrong. These insects are totally harmless.

We hope the article was informative. Thank you for reading it.

Reader Emails

Soldier Beetles are often confused for other pests and insects that destroy crops.

Our readers have made this mistake several times in the past. Here are a few times this has happened in the past, and our reader’s reaction to know that this is not a harmful insect!

Letter 1 – Black Firefly

 

Firefly impostor
June 13, 2009
A few weeks ago I noticed many insects that look very similar to fireflies. The body is black and head has red/orange markings. They seemed to appear all on the same day and now we have hundreds around the house. We have never noticed them (at least in this quantity) before. Any idea?
Bugged Out
Philadelphia suburbs

Soldier Beetle
Black Firefly

Dear Bugged Out,
We are trying to answer some older mail we didn’t open in the past month.  This is a species of Soldier Beetle, Rhaxonycha carolinus.  BugGuide has some additional information on the species.

Correction
Tuesday, 14 July, 2009
I don’t know, this looks more like Lucidota atra, a diurnal species with reduced light organs, but a true firefly.  Have a look: http://bugguide.net/node/view/5361
clickbeetle

Letter 2 – Soldier Beetle

 

black bug reminds me of a lightening bug with no light
May 27, 2010
I have recently seen these black bugs in my home. it only started after it warmed up, which was later than expected here in michigan. i have 2 small children and am concerned if they were to get bitten.
email
Michigan, Mid

Soldier Beetle

Dear email,
This is some species of Soldier Beetle in the family Cantharidae, but we have not had much luck determining the exact species based on the images posted to BugGuide.    According to BugGuide:  “Adults eat nectar, pollen and in some cases other insects, particularly aphids.  Larvae are generally carnivorous and feed on small soft-bodied insects.
They will not harm your children.

Letter 3 – Soldier Beetle

 

What bug is this?
Location: California, United States of America
April 20, 2011 1:54 am
Hello, I really hope this is not a termite! We have a bunch of them outside our home by the light at night. We live in California and it is currently spring time here.
Signature: Jared Peters

Soldier Beetle

Hi Jared,
This is some species of Soldier Beetle in the family Cantharidae.  According to BugGuide:  “Adults eat nectar, pollen, other insects; larvae are fluid-feeding predators, feed on insect eggs and larvae.”  Many species of Soldier Beetles look quite similar.

Letter 4 – Soldier Beetle bites Toddler

 

Subject: Bug bites my toddler
Location: Mooringsport, louisiana
April 6, 2016 4:09 am
This bug bit my one and half year old last night at 1 in the mornin then we found it dead on the counter this morning. Can you tell me what it is?
Signature: Nervous mom

Soldier Beetle
Soldier Beetle

Dear Nervous mom,
This is a predatory Soldier Beetle in the family Cantharidae, and it resembles images of
Podabrus brunnicollis posted to BugGuide.  Soldier Beetles are beneficial and they are not dangerous.  Your request brings up several questions in our mind.  How do you know this individual bit your toddler?  What caused it to appear mysteriously dead on the counter?

My toddler had red bites on him after this bug was on him and was screaming. No other bug was on or neR him. We have no idea why he died or how, i assume he found some of the poison our bug guy sprays monthly.
Stephanie A

18 thoughts on “Do Soldier Beetles Bite? Truth Revealed”

  1. this is a completely black bug, the shape of a firefly (long oval). i’m not sure it has antenna as bold as the picture above. when I scooted it off my washcloth, it jumped instead of flying. I’ve seen these bugs many times but just curious what they were because I saw something about fireflies on tv that said not all fireflies light up. what do you think?

    Reply
    • I was bitten by one today observing them! One landed on me and I didn’t know it until it bit me! So yeah, they can and apparently do bite.

      Reply
    • I was also bitten by one, that landed on my leg. It hurt bad enough for me to keep my eyes peeped any time I go outside now.

      Reply
  2. I found in my home an all black bug that looks like a fire fly, but it is all black, no other coloring. It was walking across my rug.

    THe weather has been hot and humid and little rain

    Reply
  3. I found in my home an all black bug that looks like a fire fly, but it is all black, no other coloring. It was walking across my rug.

    THe weather has been hot and humid and little rain

    Reply
  4. Well actually I have been searching for this bug as I was bit by one this afternoon! It’s identical to the one that bit me and it was painful and I have a red whelp on my leg. We live in SW Virginia for reference.

    Reply
  5. My son was bit by a bug that looked exactly like this beetle today also and he has a big welt where he was bit and he said it was very painful. I have been looking for a bug that matched this description since around noon. I swatted the bug after it bit my son so I saw it up close. Wish I had taken a picture! We live in MN.

    Reply
  6. I too was bitten by a soldier beetle …. Previously I had thought them to be harmless . We have a large infestation of them in our lime tree near the chicken coop … They love the chicken water feeder.

    Reply
  7. These bugs very well do bite! I was sitting on my porch one morning, and one landed on my leg. Didn’t know it had, til it chomped down, then I flung it off me.

    Reply
  8. My wife was bitten by one of these soldier beetles this morning. She felt something biting her on her face and she swatted it down. She said it was very painful. I found it on the ground where she was when she swatted whatever was biting her. I live in Louisiana.

    Reply

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