Soldier Beetle

© Robin Brickman
Soldier Beetle

The soldier bug or soldier beetle feeds on over 100 insects. They belong to the beetle family Cantharidae.The larvae like to hunt in the soil and inside edges of rough bark on trees. Soldier bugs are found throughout North America.

Both the larvae and adults feed on:
• Lawns – white cutworm
• Yard & Garden – aphids, spider mites, small caterpillars, grasshopper eggs, moth larvae, fall webworm,
• In Trees – Gypsy moth caterpillar, eastern tent caterpillar, codling moth, birch leafminer, Elm leaf beetle, oak webworm, lilac leafminer
• Vegetable Garden – cucumber beetles, aphids, Mexican bean beetles, cabbage loopers , imported cabbage worm, corn earworm, Colorado potato beetle, asparagus beetle, eggplant lace bug, onion maggot, and many more.

Description of Soldier Bug
Soldier beetles are nicknamed "leatherwings" because of their soft, clothlike wing covers, which when brightly colored are reminiscent of uniforms. Adults resemble fireflies in looks and size but don’t glow, are ½ inch long or smaller, and usually dark with orange, yellow or red markings. Larvae are usually dark colored, flat, long and segmented with many fine hairs and a velvety appearance. Actually, the colors are a warning to birds and anything else that may consider them to be fair game for food. "Eat me and you'll be sorry" is what they say.

How Do It Spot Them?
There is on the market a soldier bug lure designed to attract soldier bugs to a specific part of the yard or garden. Called “Rescue! Soldier Bug Attractor, it is a bright yellow plastic cone with the pheromone material inside. Lured to the cone, the soldier bugs then feed on surrounding pests in their larval or caterpillar stage. On lure can attract as many as 50 soldier bugs in a day. It is most effective when placed in gardens or trees in early spring when soldier bugs are emerging and looking for mates. A good time is about a week before bud-burst on the red maple tree. One cone lasts about 60 days. You should only need to use this device for one year to establish a good population of soldier bugs in your yard assuming you offer good cover, variety of plants, and water. The female can lay up to 1,000 eggs in a period of 5 to 8 weeks.

To Keep Soldier Bugs
In the garden grow nectar and pollen plants. Soldier bugs like hydrangeas for some reason that is not clear. In the weed patch, adults often congregate in large numbers on the flowers of goldenrod and milkweed.

Soldier Beetles In The House
These insects can become accidental invaders inside the house in the fall when they are searching for protect locations in which to spend the winter. Deal with the ones you can see by simply sweeping them up and discarding them into the trash.


The following questions were asked by visitors who viewed this page:
see all questions...

Do you have a gardening question? Ask Nancy