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John Fulton


John Fulton
Former County Extension Director



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In The Backyard

Horticulture columns and tips done on a timely basis
Soldier Beetle

What Looks Like a Lightening Bug without the light? - Soldier or Leatherwing Beetle

Posted by John Fulton -

Leatherwing beetles, or soldier beetles, have been with us a short while – they seem to gather particularly where linden trees are shedding pollen. They look like pale lightning bugs, but don't have the light. These beetles are elongate, soft-bodied and about 1/2 inch long. Colors of soldier beetles vary from yellow to red with brown or black wings or trim. A common and easily-spotted species is the Pennsylvania leatherwing, which is yellow with one large black spot on each wing. Most larvae are carnivorous, feeding on insects in the soil. Larvae overwinter in damp soil and debris or loose bark. The adults are also predators, eating caterpillars, eggs, aphids, and other soft-bodied insects. They will alternatively eat nectar and pollen if no insects are around. Unlike the lightning bug, they do not damage plant foliage. Adults are often found on flowers such as goldenrod, where they lie in wait for prey, feed on pollen and mate. Since soldier beetles are beneficial, it is inadvisable to kill them.



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