Soldier Beetles


 Ever seen one of these and wondered if it's a friend or foe to your garden?

Don't be alarmed, its a Soldier Beetle, a good guy!

Look at him surveying from the top of a peach stem!  Good place for him, the peach is terminally ill.

Soldier beetles are also called "leatherwings" because their wing covers are soft like leather (I will assume suede, as I don't find leather particularly soft).

The larvae overwinter in soil, eating the larvae of other insects, and their eggs, including those of grasshoppers.

The adults eat mostly nectar and pollen (thus are good pollinators), as well as aphids.   

Soldier beetles are drawn to goldenrod and single petal marigolds and daisy family flowers. 

There's a lesson to learn here.  Don't be so quick to stomp on unfamiliar and/or ferocious looking insects in your garden!  Many will turn out to be warrior bugs come to save the day!  If I don't know what something is, I'll spare it and go do some research.  Of course, some pests get away, but I'll recognize them the next time.

(Oh, the name "soldier" is for the black with red "trim" like that of the early British soldier uniform!)

(A future post will address the ladybug or ladybird beetle, and the look-alike "baddie" the Japanese ladybeetle.)  

Edited after harvesting some lettuce and finding a soldier beetle on my hand!

My first reaction was going to be to shake my hand and scream, "Get it off!" then I noticed it was a Soldier beetle, and all was fine.  He eventually flew off.   They are known to be pretty laid back and slow to fly, and this one was.


I doubt insects have necks, but if they did, this guy had a long one!  Okay, I guess what he has is a long thorax.  Insects = head, thorax, abdomen.  It looks like his neck!



 



Comments

  1. That's really interesting. he's one I probably would have squished without knowing he was a good guy!

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    1. I would have too if I hadn't learned better. I killed a lady bug once mistaking it for an invasive Japanese ladybeetle. Now, if I don't know I look it up. I recognize milkweed bugs for sure! So many insects are black and red.

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  2. I just saw a couple of those today so this is good to know. I generally don't squash things at all except aphids and black vine weevils so the bug was safe with me. Thought it was a box elder bug, actually, but this is better! Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. Yes, box elder bugs and milkweed bugs are black and red too. Those two look quite a bit more alike than this one, with the markings. Of course, any time I've seen milkweed bugs they've been on the milkweed. I already caught one this year, and the plant's flowers aren't even open yet! They are why there is a small canning jar near the Butterfly Garden bed, I knock them into the jar, upend it on a stepping stone, and step on them. They are smart though, and move fast!

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