Soldier beetles have a four-stage lifecycle.
During the egg stage, female soldier beetles lay their small, oval-shaped eggs in concealed places like soil, leaf litter, or under bark. These eggs usually hatch within a week or two, depending on environmental conditions.
Upon hatching, the larvae emerge and begin their quest for food. They are carnivorous and actively hunt for prey like small insects and insect eggs, keeping your garden pest-free. During this stage, the larva undergoes a series of molts as it grows bigger, shedding its old exoskeleton to make room for its expanding body.
As the soldier beetle larva reaches its maximum size, it enters the pupa stage of metamorphosis. Encased in a protective cocoon, the larva transforms into an adult soldier beetle. This pupation process typically takes a couple of weeks.
Once the metamorphosis is complete, the adult soldier beetle emerges from its pupal case. In this stage, both males and females actively search for mates to continue the life cycle. Adult soldier beetles feed on nectar, pollen, and small insects, and they play a vital role in controlling garden pests. After mating, the adult beetles will live for a few more weeks before dying.
- Egg Stage: Female lays small, oval-shaped eggs
- Larvae Stage: Carnivorous larva grows and molts
- Pupa Stage: Transformation in a protective cocoon
- Adult Stage: Mating and pest control
Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.
Letter 1 – Brown Leatherwing
Brown Leatherwing Beetle
Location: Northern California
May 3, 2011 3:03 am
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?
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.”
Letter 2 – Goldenrod Soldier Beetles Mating
August 31, 2009
I thought you might like a photo of some margined leatherwing beetles in the mating act.
near Omaha NE
Thanks for sending us your Bug Love image, but we don’t believe these are Margined Leatherwings. That species, according to BugGuide, is “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.“ In our opinion, your photo depicts mating Goldenrod Soldier Beetles or Pennsylvania Leatherwings, Chauliognathus pensylvanicus. Compare your image to the images posted on BugGuide.
Letter 3 – Soldier Beetle
Subject: I can’t find the bug online anywhere!
Geographic location of the bug: Massachusetts
Time: 09:28 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Hi Bugman,
I need your help identifying this bug. I have no where else to turn and I have searched for hours for an answer.
Thank you for your service
How you want your letter signed: A bug wonderer
Dear Bug Wonderer,
This is a Soldier Beetle in the family Cantharidae, and based on this BugGuide image, we believe it is Cantharis rufa. According to BugGuide: “native to, and widespread across the Palaearctic, adventive in NA (e. Canada & ne. US: NF-ON to MA-NY).” According to the family page on BugGuide: “Adults eat nectar, pollen, other insects; larvae are fluid-feeding predators, feed on insect eggs and larvae,” hence they are beneficial.
Letter 4 – Beetle from India: Superfamily Elateroidea
Subject: Identification of Beetle
Location: Bangalore, India
July 24, 2016 9:05 am
Hi……Am Girish Ananthamurthy from Bangalore, India…today i.e. 24th July 2016 i have photographed this small beetle in the famous Lal Bagh Garden located in Bangalore. am trying to identify this little beetle but unable to get any correct information……in the process of my search came across your website and thought of requesting you to please help me identify this beetle . Hope i can get an answer and thanking you in anticipation
Signature: Girish Ananthamurthy
Our three best guesses for your Beetle’s family are Soldier Beetle family Cantharidae, Net-Winged Beetle family Lycidae or Firefly Beetle family Lampyridae. Interestingly, all three families are in the same superfamily Elateroidea. It looks similar to the Red Soldier Beetle, Rhagonycha fulva, a species native to Eurasia, introduced into North America and pictured on Focusing on Wildlife.
Dear sir….thank you so much….i also found similarity with red soldier beetle but was confused as i read that its not native to India….then how come its founs here ao asked for identification..thank you again
Letter 5 – Brown Leatherwing
A longhorn beetle?
April 23, 2010
Hello. This cute little guy flew into my house at night. The “fern” like legs are very attractive. it’s about half an inch long with fuzzy brownish grey wings, and a red head. I wonder if it’s a type of longhorn beetle? thanks in advance for your help!
We have been seeing these Brown Leatherwings, Pacificanthia consors, formerly Cantharis consors, on our own front porch windows where they are attracted to the porch light. Though the antennae of the Brown Leatherwing are long, they are not Longhorned Beetles, but rather, Soldier Beetles in the family Cantharidae.
Letter 6 – Brown Leatherwing
Cant ID this beetle
Location: Southern california (el cajon)
April 17, 2011 3:21 pm
OK Ive been going nuts on Google trying to find these guys , i made a little garden around a sycamore tree and these things are EVERYWHERE hundreds of them and i cant seem to ID him would be appreciate it , Sorry about the photo quality hard to take a pic of em , they seem to ”sleep” during the day and if you wake them they run off and fly they’re about an inch long total wish i could describe them better , Thanks.
Though your photo is quite blurry, we are relatively certain you have Brown Leatherwings, Pacificanthia consors, though that common name is attributed to Charles Hogue in his awesome book, Insects of the Los Angeles Basis, and the common name is not recognized on BugGuide. According to Hogue, Brown Leatherwings feed on small insects they find among leaf litter, so they will not damage you nor your property.
Thanks for the quick response , yep thats them alright its very much appreciated thank you for your time.
Letter 7 – Brown Leatherwing
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.
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.
Letter 8 – Brown Leatherwing
Help identify this creepy crawler
Location: Simi Valley, ca
May 9, 2011 11:19 am
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!!
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!!
Letter 9 – Brown Leatherwing
Subject: What is this bug and should i be worried???
Location: Valley Center, California
April 29, 2013 10:32 pm
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
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.
Letter 10 – Brown Leatherwing
Subject: Weird bug I never seen before
Location: San Diego, CA
May 3, 2013 9:37 pm
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
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.
Letter 11 – Brown Leatherwing
Subject: Big identification
May 9, 2016 10:07 pm
Hi, I’ve been seeing these bugs out at night on the walls of my house. They’re always outside. I think it’s some type of beetle. I live in Southern California, very close to Mexico.. Inland/desert area. Would love it if you could help. Thanks.
This is a beneficial Soldier Beetle known as a Brown Leatherwing, Pacificanthia consors. We always enjoy their annual spring appearance in our garden.
Letter 12 – Brown Leatherwing: Crushed in a paper towel
Flying orange head gray wing bug
May 15, 2010
Hello, I live in southern California in an area with a lot of trees. As soon as the weather became warm, I have been finding these insects around my house. It has a small orange head with black beady eyes the size of a pen mark. It has two antennas, and six legs. Its legs almost remind me of a cockroach. Lastly it’s body is no more than 1/8in wide and about .5-1in long in the shape of a rectangle. Its wings do not taper off instead ends like a rectangle.
Los Angeles, ca
In an effort to educate our readership and to promote tolerance of beneficial insects that pose no threat to humans, we created an Unnecessary Carnage tag for letters like yours. This Brown Leatherwing appears to have been squashed in a paper towel. The Brown Leatherwing, Pacificanthia consors and formerly Cantharis consors, is a species of Soldier Beetle and adults are frequently attracted to porch lights in southern California. Keeping the porch light off at night will conserve energy as well as eliminate the number of Brown Leatherwings that enter your home. Soldier Beetles are predators, and the Brown Leatherwing feeds upon other insects.
Letter 13 – Brown Leatherwing from Catalina Island
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
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.
Letter 14 – Bug of the Month May 2011: Brown Leatherwings Mating
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
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.
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!
Frederique Lavoipierre Comments
Soldier Beetles in Pacific Horticulture
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
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!
Letter 15 – Deformed Two Lined Leatherwing
Subject: Firefly just reaching adulthood?
Location: Southeast Michigan
May 18, 2016 9:06 pm
Hi, i took this photo on May 17, 2016. It was on a white nut grass bloom (cyperus rotundus) in my backyard. I live in Taylor, MI. There were a couple different kinds of bees on these flowers also.
I couldnt find anything similar in my Kaufman’s insect guide.
Anyway, if you could help me that would be wonderful. If not, I understand. Have a wonderful day :-).
Signature: Shelly L.
Because this Soldier Beetle in the family Cantharidae is either newly metamorphosed, or it has been injured or it is just deformed, it will be difficult to identify in most field guides. We believe it is Atalantycha bilineata based on this BugGuide image. According to BugGuide, it is called a Two Lined Leatherwing and its habitat is “hardwood and pine forests; adults like the flowers of Red Haw, Viburnum rufidulum.“
Thank you so much!!! My love of bugs is only about 10 years old. I used to fear them but then slowly began to find them incredibly interesting which eventually turned into finding them wonderful.
I also wanted to mention that I was just on your firefly page and clicked an ad for Nume curling irons. The ad on the page had a promo code, shop24 which was supposed to yield a significant discount. When I went to check out it said the code had expired. I’m not really looking for you to resolve this issue :-), I just thought you guys should know since they advertise on your site that there’s a small possibility they might not be on the up and up. Of course, this could’ve simply been a clerical error. Just an FYI.
Anyway, thank you so much again. You have absolutely made my day! 🙂
Thanks for the information Shelly. We do not micromanage the advertising on our site which is run by Google. We generate a small amount of revenue when folks who visit our site click on the ads. Google uses an algorithm to determine which advertisers are relevant to both our site content, and the online browsing history of your own computer. Very complicated and we don’t really understand it all, but again, the advertisers are beyond our control.
Letter 16 – Mating Soldier Beetles in England
Subject: For Bug Love
Location: sorry… Magdalen Hill
August 18, 2016
For Bug Love
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.
Letter 17 – Hogweed Bonking Beetles
Subject: Feeding with the bumbles
Location: Seattle, WA
July 8, 2016 7:05 am
This little red guy loves to hover around my little lime hydrangeas. They can fly, albeit slowly, even next to the bumbles that devour my lavender that lives next to my hydrandea. I would love to know what they are and if/how they are beneficial to my garden.
These are Soldier Beetles in the family Cantharidae, and we believe we have correctly identified them as Rhagonycha fulva thanks to this BugGuide image which shows the black tipped wings. According to BugGuide: “adults often found on flowerheads of herbaceous plants during the day” where “adults feed on small insects that visit flowers; larvae feed on snails, slugs, and ground-dwelling insects.” BugGuide also notes it is “native to Eurasia; introduced to North America some time ago” and “well-established in British Columbia and Quebec.” Despite not being a native species, all indications are that this is a beneficial insect in your garden. Finally, we are amused that BugGuide notes that its common name is Hogweed Bonking Beetle.
Letter 18 – Hogweed Bonking Beetles: mating and feeding
What R These?
July 13, 2009
These are found on one paticular plant right now which they feed upon and become intimate as well. I’ve included a pic of the plant. The beetles are1/2″ in length at most. I have never seen these in the field that I walk on a regular basis for the past 5 years. Are they new to this area. Thanks
Eastern Ontario Canada
The Common Red Soldier Beetle, Rhagonycha fulva, is, according to BugGuide: “well-established in British Columbia and Quebec [Pat Bouchard]; recently recorded in Ontario from BugGuide photos … native to Eurasia; introduced to North America some time ago.” BugGuide also indicates: “adults feed on small insects that visit flowers larvae feed on snails, slugs, and ground-dwelling insects” and especially interesting, that it is also called Hogweed Bonking Beetle. ” The Garden Safari website indicates it is because “The Hogweed Bonking Beetle (Rhagonycha fulva) is often seen in copula on plants and flowers.”
Letter 19 – Leatherwing
You have a great website! I found some similar looking bugs, but not exactly. I’m hoping you can ID the bugs in these pictures. Thanks for your help! The bugs in PICT0268 and PICT0126 come in the house in large numbers through small cracks at the side of the screen. They seem to arrive in the fall. The majority move to windows on the side of the house with the sun. The bug in PICT0126 is a brownish gray with yellow markings (the coloring is a bit off). PICT0006 and 0008 are different sides of the same bug. They don’t come in the house. They arrive in early spring and have voracious appetites for aphids on rose bushes leaving black oilish smears on the leaves.
Your aphid eater is a Leatherwing, ond of the Soldier Beetles. It resembles Podabrus pruinosus pictured on BugGuide. BugGuide also indicates that many species eat aphids. We have neglected photographing our own species that has been attracted to the porch light for the past month.
Letter 20 – Margined Leatherwing NOT responsible for damage to Corn
Subject: Bugs eating my corn
Geographic location of the bug: Illinois – USS
Time: 11:45 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Growing corn for years and this had never been an issue. Two types of bugs have destroyed all my corn in my garden.
How you want your letter signed: Emilia
Not every insect found on your corn plants is injurious to your crop. The image with the smaller beetles does not have enough detail for us to provide an identification, but the beetles in two of your images are Margined Leatherwings, Chauliognathus marginatus, and according to BugGuide: “Adult feeds on pollen and nectar; also predatory. Larva is predatory, known to attack corn earworm and corn borer.” This is actually a beneficial insect on your corn plants. The damage that is visible to the ears of corn in the images you provided does not look to us like it was caused by insects. We suspect rodents or some other larger creature is eating your corn at night, and that the Margined Leatherwings were accused of the damage through circumstantial evidence by merely being present at the scene of the crime.
Letter 21 – Mating Hogweed Bonking Beetles
Subject: what kind of beetle is this?
Location: Vancouver wa
July 11, 2016 7:42 am
Hello, I was wondering if you could help me with the identification of this beetle….. my wife, son and I where in a walk the other day in a field at the Vancouver wa. Wild life refuge. I was looking at a cluster of flowers (image 1) when I seen a couple of little black bugs crawling threw it. I flipped it over and found two little orangish beetles that where mating (image 2-3) I’ve never seen these little guys before and can not seem to find them on Google or any of the other sites I use for identification.
Signature: Thank you for your time, James Roberson
These mating Soldier Beetles are living up to their name Hogweed Bonking Beetles. They are an introduced species from Eurasia and they are predators. The dark tips of the wings are an identifying feature.
Lol, yeah I’d defiantly say that they are… Thank you for your help and quick response. I have found your site very useful many times and this is another good example.
Letter 22 – Mating Leatherwings
NM AZ Road Trip Photos: Swarms, Bug Lust &
On our way to visit friends in AZ crossing far western New
Mexico we encountered … Following that encounter, we caught
a beetle foursome “in the act.” My gosh… bug lust.
Any idea what type of beetles these are? Thanks for any info.
you can provide. Feel free to post the photos.
Lori L. Paul
Hi again Lori,
You submitted so many excellent photos, we wanted to post
another. These are mating Leatherwings, a type of Soldier
Beetle. We believe it is Chauliognathus omissus which can
be found on BugGuide
and is native to Arizona and vicinity. It looks very similar
to an eastern species, the Pennsylvania Leatherwing or Goldenrod
Soldier Beetle. Your photo doesn’t truly depict a “foursome”
since they are two pairs on different flower heads. Since
beetles and other insects don’t generally have a bedroom in
which to retreat for privacy, they have no choice but to procreate
in the open air. While such behavior might be unseemly in
humans, it is completely natural for insects. It is sad that
procreating in the great outdoors is taboo behavior for “civilized”
humans who are being denied the right to truly commune with nature lest they risk incarceration.
Letter 23 – Mating Margined Leatherwings
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
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.
Letter 24 – Mating Margined Leatherwings
Pennyslvania Leatherwings on a Daisy
June 30, 2010
Before I post these pics for my friends to view, I was hoping to get some insight to see if I am right on the identification of these beetles. I took this picture a few weeks ago on a fishing trip and have since identified these two beetles as Pennsylvania Leatherwings (Chauliognathus pennsylvanicus), please correct me if I am wrong. But the other beetle in the second photo has me stumped. At first appearance to someone who is uninterested, it would appear the same. But I have been searching to identify this other beetle and have not done so yet. I was wondering if you could help me out with its identification. It was on the daisy right next to the daisy that the Pennsylvania Leatherwings were on. Thanks so much for your time and everything that you do…you have an awesome website!
Justin Stair of Nigh Wolf Lofts & Aquatic Wilds
Your identification is so close, but no cigar. It is a few months early in the season for Pennsylvania Leatherwings, also known as Goldenrod Soldier Beetles. They are active from late August to October, when the goldenrod is in bloom. All of your beetles are the closely related Margined Leatherwings, Chauliognathus marginatus. According to BugGuide, the Margined Leatherwing is: “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.“
Letter 25 – Mating Pennsylvania Leather-Wings
pretty orange bug orgy
Took this picture today 9-2-06 near the confluence of the Missouri and MIssissippi Rivers. There were hundreds of pairings of these bugs getting busy. My 7-year-old daughter informed me that they were mating. No more Animal Planet for her! Or that does make a certain talk a little easier…..
Thanks for contributing this wonderful image of mating Pennsylvania Leatherwings, Chauliognathus pennsylvanicus.
Letter 26 – Mating Pennsylvania Leatherwings
Color Coordinated Bug Love?
Is this bug love?
These are mating Pennsylvania Leatherwings, Chauliognathus pennsylvanicus, a species of Soldier Beetle. Since it is commonly associated with goldenrod, it is also known as the Goldenrod Soldier Beetle.
Letter 27 – Mating Pennsylvania Leatherwings
bugs in love
I know what they’re doing but I have no idea what kind of bug they are. I bet you do, though!
These mating beetles are known as Pennsylvania Leatherwings, Chauliognathus pennsylvanicus. Because it is often found feeding on the pollen from goldenrod, it is also called the Goldenrod Soldier Beetle.
Letter 28 – Bug of the Month October 2008: Mating Pennsylvania Leatherwings
mating pennyslvania leatherwings.
I thought I would share with you this image of a mating pair of pennsylvania leatherwings that I captured the other day near our house in Seymour, Tennessee, which is just south of Knoxville. I know you probably get a lot of these, but i thought that the angle on this photo was really cool. Anyway enjoy! I love the new layout of the site!
Thanks for the positive words about our new site format. Your mating Pennsylvania Leatherwings, AKA Goldenrod Soldier Beetles, is quite a nice addition to our archives
Update: 29 September 2008
It is time for us to select a Bug of the Month, and we almost chose the Locust Borer, but that was our Bug of the Month for October 2007. Pennsylvania Leatherwings, Chauliognathus pensylvanicus, are a good choice, because like the Locust Borer, they are associated with that common wildflower Goldenrod. When the Goldenrod blooms in the fall, there is an entire ecosystem that depends upon it for survival. We have fond memories of running through the fields in Ohio when the Goldenrod was in bloom, after school started but before the cold winter weather arrived. Preying Mantids were everywhere, as were a variety of Orb Weaving Spiders. The Monarch Butterflies were migrating, and the last Swallowtails and Fritillaries and Painted Ladies came to the blossoms for nectar. Wasps and Bees and the beetles that mimic them like the Locust Borer were everywhere on the flowers. Grasshoppers were hopping and flying about. The Pennsylvania Leatherwings were also quite common, but their smaller size kept them from being the dramatic stars in the drama of eat or be eaten that was happening around them..
Letter 29 – Mating Pennsylvania Leatherwings
Beetle black & orange-yellow
August 12, 2009
Beetle same size and shape as a firefly. Black and orange-yellow carapice; black and yellow bars on body. Similar to a Cantharid beetle, but different color and pattern. Mating in August. Couldn’t find on internet or stock photo sites.
Detroit area, Michigan
These are mating Pennsylvania Leatherwings, Chauliognathus pensylvanicus, also called Goldenrod Soldier Beetles. They are a species of Soldier Beetle. Soldier Beetles, Fireflies and Click Beetles are all in the same superfamily Elateroidea which is why they resemble one another.
Letter 30 – Mating Pennsylvania Leatherwings
Location: Dowelton, Middle TN
September 18, 2010 12:10 am
Hello! I was hiking around in the middle Tennessee area, scoping out the scenery when I happened to see a true love fest atop some white boneset flowers I came across. Literally each of these batches of flowers featured a little buggy action, all the same bugs. This photo was taken Sept 15th on a beautiful day. After seeing this website (fantastic!) I leapt at the chance to get a bug identification.
Signature: Bugged in College
It sounds like you witnessed quite a mating frenzy of Pennsylvania Leatherwings, Chauliognathus pensylvanicus, also known as Goldenrod Soldier Beetles. The adults feed on pollen and they are frequently found on goldenrod.
Letter 31 – Pennsylvania Leather-Wing
Hi. I love your site. Hopefully you can help me identify this beetle found on a flower in eastern ontario.
Despite being called the Pennsylvania Leather-Wing, the range of Chauliognathus pennsylvanicus extends beyond the Keystone state. Adults eat pollen and nectar and are often found on goldenrod and in meadows, fields and gardens. Larvae prey on grasshoppereggs, small caterpillars and beetles. The are great biological controls for Corn Earworms.
Letter 32 – Pennsylvania Leather-Wings Mating
Hello! The Pennsylvania Leather-Back (identified it with the help of your website!!) is common at the conservation area. I thought I would send along this photo for your lovebug page. Take Care,
Janet from Dundas, Ontario
Thanks for the image of mating Pennsylvania Leather-Wings, Chauliognathus pennsylvanicus. These Soldier Beetles are important biological controls against Corn Earworms in the larval form and adults are often found on flowers, especially goldenrod since they eat pollen and nectar.
Letter 33 – Pennsylvania Leatherwing
Bee? Beetle? in Illinois
Hi there! I stumbled across your website while looking for something about this insect. I saw it on a flower (the picture included) and thought it was a beetle. I was out collecting some flowers this afternoon and saw a whole bunch of them on some blanket flowers. I looked closer and noticed some stripes underneath, looking a lot like a bee. The striped abdomen is hidden in this picture. It’s under the beetle-looking yellow and black part. I live near Rockford, IL. Any help you can give me would be very welcome. Thanks!
Your beetle is a Pennsylvania Leatherwing, Chauliognathus pensylvanicus, also known as the Goldenrod Soldier Beetle. It is commonly found in the fall in the eastern US on flowers gathering pollen.
Letter 34 – Pennsylvania Leatherwing
Pennsylvania Leatherwing suns itself, then eats a hydrangea
Location: Naperville, IL
August 31, 2011 9:14 pm
I have these Leatherwings, aka Goldenrod Soldier beetles, all over my hydrangea paniculata ’tardiva’. I understand their larvae enjoy cucumber beetles. All the best to you!
Signature: Dori Eldridge
Now that summer is nearing an end, we expect to be getting numerous identification requests for Pennsylvania Leatherwings that love feeding on goldenrod pollen, though we don’t expect any of the photos to be as nice as your photo.
Letter 35 – Pennsylvania Leatherwing
Subject: two-spotted insect
Location: northeastern Illinois
October 29, 2012 5:02 pm
I found this colorful fellow on a thistle blossom along with a bumblebee that I noticed first. I tried some self ID using your website but gave up after a couple of hours because I frankly don’t know the correct section to look through. I took a side view and a top view to help identify it.
Signature: unintentional entomologist
Dear unintentional entomologist,
The Pennsylvania Leatherwing or Goldenrod Soldier Beetle is frequently associated with goldenrod, a common autumn bloom, and we are surprised that your photo is the first submission this year. Typically, we begin to have identification requests for Pennsylvania Leatherwings beginning in September.
Actually, I took this picture on September 3, but I took a couple of hour’s worth of photos that day including ducks, egrets and blue herons which were having great success wading and fishing in a shallow section of a rain-depleted Fox River. Consequently, I did not get around to processing the macro-lens photos from along the river bank until October 27th. There were some pictures of goldenrod in the group, but none had this beetle in it.
I guess I still would have been your first submission this year, but at least it would have been within your expected time frame.
Letter 36 – Soldier Beetle from Costa Rica with bad molt
Subject: Insect from Costa Rica
Location: Costa Rica
January 3, 2014 7:08 pm
I photographed this guy in Costa Rica, at about 1000 m elevation. Can you help me to identify it? Thank you!
Depending upon how specific you would like our answer to be, we may or may not have an answer for you. This is a Beetle, a member of the insect order Coleoptera, the largest group of insects in the world. Beyond that, we cannot be certain. It appears that this beetle has deformed elytra, and we are not certain if that is a characteristic of this particular species, or if this is a deformed individual that did not develop correctly. We are favoring the latter possibility, which might greatly complicate its identification if it does not resemble other members of its species due to the deformity. It also appears to be a soft bodied beetle, without the hard elytra or wing covers that is a characteristic of most beetles. We are guessing this individual is likely in the superfamily Elateroidea. It resembles the Net-Winged Beetles in the family Lycidae and you can compare your specimen to this Golden Net-Wing pictured on BugGuide. as an example of how a “typical” family member looks. The light tip on the abdomen might suggest bioluminescence and could mean your beetle is a Firefly in the family Lampyridae. Your beetle also shares some characteristics of the Soldier Beetles in the family Cantharidae. There is much more diversity in the tropics and there are also many poorly documented species as well as undocumented species in the tropics. Our main source of information is the internet, and many organisms are poorly represented on the internet. We tried a web search of “red beetle Costa Rica” and most of the images produced by google were not even beetles. Perhaps one of our readers will be able to provide a more specific answer for you.
Eric Eaton provides an identification
Yes, it is a soldier beetle, family Cantharidae.
Do you agree it is either deformed or hasn’t had the wings fully expand after metamorphosis?
Yes, probably a bad molt.
Letter 37 – Soldier Beetle Larva
Subject: Is this some kind of termite?
Location: Eastern Pennsylvania
October 6, 2012 8:17 am
This is my second asking, as I did not receive an answer to my first request, and although I’ve quite a lot of looking at BugGuide and searching with google, I can’t figure out what this is. I’ve become concerned that it may be some kind of termite.
We found it on the carpet in our apartment in eastern Pennsylvania.
We apologize for the delay. Our tiny staff tries to respond to as many requests as possible, but we can never fully fulfill the demands of our readership. This is NOT a termite. It is the larval form of some insect, most likely a Beetle, but we need to do additional research. Hopefully we will eventually be able to provide an identification since larvae are often notoriously difficult to identify to the species level.
Thanks for getting back to me. I’m glad to hear it isn’t a termite.
Update: 15 October 2012
Thanks to a comment from one of our readers, we are confident this is a Soldier Beetle Larva as it looks nearly identical to this photo posted to BugGuide.
Letter 38 – What’s Killing the Brown Leatherwings
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
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.
Letter 39 – Soldier Bug from England
Geographic location of the bug: England
Time: 01:59 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: I found this in a salad from Morrison’s and can’t find what it is or where it’s from
How you want your letter signed: J Mccormack
Letter 40 – Soldier Bugs from Spain
Subject: Can you identify this?
Geographic location of the bug: Andalusia, spain
Time: 09:24 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Hi, I was recently clearing ground, mainly olliander, and there were dozens (if not hundreds) of these small bugs. I assume that are some form of bark beetle, but can you help?
They are about 8-10 mm in size and this was in January 2018
How you want your letter signed: Thanks in advance
These are not Bark Beetles. They are True Bugs and we located a matching image on Insects of Spain, but it is not identified. Continued research led us to Honey Guide where we found images identified as Ground Bugs, Spilostethus pandurus. That scientific name led us to Fauna and Funghi of Malta and the common name Soldier Bug and the information: “A common insect often found solitary on wild plants or on the ground in vegetated areas. It is 12-15mm long and easily spotted due to its conspicuous red/black colour pattern. Despite it can be easily detected and caught by predators, it defends itself from them by secreting pungent odours and have a very repulsive taste, hence the predator will not eat another specimen of this species. It have pecial needle-like mandibles by which it pierce vegetative parts or other insects to feed on.” iNaturalist verified the common name Soldier Bug as well as numerous sightings in Spain.
Letter 41 – Spined Soldier Bug
Stink bug or spined soldier bug?
Location: Northern VA, USA
October 3, 2010 8:01 pm
I’m still having a hard time distinguishing a stink bug from a spined soldier bug. In this photo, I think I’ve got a spined solider bug, but I’m not sure.
Signature: Patty in VA
Your insect is both a Stink Bug and a Spined Soldier Bug. Stink Bug is a general name for members of the family Pentatomidae. Spined Soldier Bugs are in the family Pentatomidae, and they are further classified in the genus Podisus, which you may see on BugGuide. While most Stink Bugs feed on plants using their sucking mouthparts, and many Stink Bugs are considered agricultural pests that would not be welcome in the garden, the Spined Soldier Bugs are predators, and though they may also prey on beneficial insects, their presence would generally be welcomed in the garden.
Thank you very much for your answers to my submissions. I love the website and refer to it often!
Letter 42 – Spined Soldier Bug
Spined Soldier Bug????
Location: Fulton County, Illinois
February 10, 2011 1:11 am
I thought this was a Spined Soldier Bug. The red patch on its back is not in any information I have found.
The angle of view of your photo makes it difficult to ascertain for certain that this is a Spined Soldier Bug, Podisus maculiventris, but we believe that you are probably correct because of the spines on the pronotum at the widest point of the body. A photo posted to BugGuide shows some reddish markings on the individual as well as reddish legs. Perhaps there are some latent genes that may eventually result in a population with red markings for this beneficial Predatory Stink Bug.
Letter 43 – Spined Soldier Bug Nymph
Subject: What’s this beetle
Location: Oak Park, Il
June 24, 2017 8:23 am
Been doing extensive research and can’t identify this beetle. I’m in Oak Park, Illinois and hoping it’s not destructive to the garden
This is not a Beetle, which might explain the difficulty you have had identifying this immature Stink Bug. We believe it is a predatory Spined Soldier Bug nymph, Podisus maculiventris, based on this BugGuide image. According to BugGuide it is: “available commercially as biocontrol agent against a wide array of agriculturally significant pests” and it feeds on a “Wide variety of insects; known to eat Mexican bean beetles, European corn borers, diamondback moths, corn earworms, beet armyworms, fall armyworms, cabbage loopers, imported cabbageworms, Colorado potato beetles, velvetbean caterpillars and flea beetles.”
Thanks so much for solving the mystery AND your quick response! I’m happy to hear it’s not destructive to my plants.