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Soldier Beetle (Podabrus pruinosis)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Soldier Beetle

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Image Credit: Patrick F. from Bryan, OH
Full-sized image of the Soldier-Beetle-Podabrus Thumbnail image of the Soldier-Beetle-Podabrus

Soldier Beetles are great aphid hunters, helping gardeners control pest populations that often undermine food harvests and ornamental displays.

Updated: 07/13/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Most Soldier Beetles 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, living up to their name by protecting plants. The wings of this beetle are soft, like leather.

Soldier Beetles 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 white grubs (larvae) can be seen on the ground feeding in leaf litter.

General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Helpful insect icon


Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Coleoptera
        Family: Cantharidae
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          Genus: Podabrus
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            Species: pruinosis
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Podabrus pruinosis
Other Name(s): Leatherwing Beetle
Category: Beetle
Size (Adult; Length): 11mm to 17mm (0.43" to 0.66")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black, orange
Descriptors: flower, flying, helpful

Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 11mm (0.4in) and 17mm (0.7in)
Lo: 11mm
Md: 14mm
Hi: 17mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Soldier Beetle may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Soldier Beetle. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.


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