Soldier Beetles are great aphid hunters, helping gardeners control pest populations that often undermine food harvests or ornamental aesthetics.
Most Soldier Beetle are sentries in the garden, eating insects that harm plants. Some species feed on aphids; some eat the sticky honeydew that aphids secrete after ingesting the juices from a plant. Certain Solider Beetles eat both, which is a bonus. Honeydew attracts other insects, like ants, and can turn black with mold in certain conditions, ruining the beauty of ornamental plants. Aphids are a fast breeding insect that can quickly infest a plant and drain it of its resources, weakening it to the point of death. Soldier Beetles are a friend to gardeners.
The wings of this beetle are soft, like leather. Their coloring was reminiscent of the red coats worn by British military. They are members of the Cantharidae family, which means they secrete a defensive toxic chemical that deters predators from pursuing them.
Look for Solider Beetle adults on flowers and plants prone to aphid attack. Their larvae can be seen on the ground feeding in leaf litter.
Scientific Name: Podabrus pruinosis
Other Name(s): Leatherwing Beetle
Size (Adult; Length): 11mm to 17mm (0.43in to 0.66in)
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Antennae: Beetles have a pair of antennae on the head used as sensors.
Head: The head is home to the insect's eyes, antennae, and mandibles (jaws).
Thorax: Holds the three pairs of legs as well as vital internal organs.
Elytron: One of two wing cases on a Beetle that protects its wings (plural: elytra).
Wings: Appendages used for flying and kept under the elytra until needed.
Abdomen: Houses organs related to circulation, reproduction, and excretion.
Legs: Beetles have three pairs of legs located at the thorax, numbering six legs in all.