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Flowers, Fruits, and Frass

Local and statewide information on a variety of current topics for home gardeners and market growers.
golden rod soldier bug
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Goldenrod soldier bug- The Great Pollinator

Posted by Kelly Allsup - Bugs

In the garden this week, garlic chives (Allium sativum) lured bumblebees, butterflies and beneficial insects to partake of its abundance of pollen and nectar. The white marble shaped white papery bracts are a haven for the good guys. Upon investigation, I found a brilliant yellow bug that reminded me of a lightening bug. It was a goldenrod soldier bug (Chauliognathus pensylvanicus) feasting along with the bees on fall flowers; the goldenrods (Solidago spp.) are a particular favorite. They are orange- yellow bugs and have three black marks with a black head that are not covered like a lightening bug. They are known to carry loads of pollen on their bodies and particularly their front legs. In addition to being very efficient pollinators, golden rod soldier bugs also have beneficial insect status because they will eat small insects, aphids and caterpillar eggs. Even the brown bristly worm like larvae will eat grasshopper eggs, caterpillars and other insects. They do absolutely no harm to your plants.


While they visit the plethora of fall flowers for pollen and nectar they are also looking for a mate. Once mated, a female will deposit the egg in leaf litter. The larvae will hatch and feed on the ground and then pupate (cocoon) through the winter. These insects are most common in the meadows and fields during the months of August. Golden rod soldier bugs serve as a food source for wildlife like birds, bats and spiders.

University of Illinois Extension suggests avoiding chemical treatments in gardens hosting these very valuable pollinators and beneficial insects. If insecticides are needed; choose neem oil, insecticidal soaps or pyrethrums because they have little residual effects on your garden. Inspect fall flowers, especially fall blooming Solidago, in your garden for these visitors. Solidago is a native plant species that turns brilliant yellow in prairies, fields and gardens. If you would like to include more wildlife in your garden plant pollinator plants like golden rod that also attract beneficial insects. Additional plants like asparagus, sweet alyssum, agastache, butterfly weed, dill, parsley, herbs and native prairie forbs can be great additions to the garden for this purpose. For more information on the importance of pollinators please visit the University of Illinois Pollinatarium website at

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