Home / Soldier Beetles (Cantharidae) / Goldenrod Soldier Beetle (Chauliognathus pensylvanicus)

Goldenrod Soldier Beetle (Chauliognathus pensylvanicus)

Golden soldier beetle of the soldier beetle (Cantharidae) family is indigenous to parts of North America. It gets its name from the goldenrod flower that is its main food source.

Goldenrod Soldier Beetle

Scientific Classification

  • Family: Cantharidae
  • Genus: Chauliognathus
  • Scientific name: Chauliognathus pensylvanicus

Physical Description and Identification

Adult

Size: About 12.7 mm (0.5 inches)

Color: They have an orange body with two prominent elongated black spots on their thorax and elytra.

Other Characteristic Features: The goldenrod soldier beetles appear elongated with soft and flexible elytra. Their chewing mouthparts, alongside the long, straight antennae, remain prominently visible on the head.

Pennsylvania Leatherwing

Larva

The dark-colored larvae, long and slender, have a velvety appearance because of the tiny and dense bristles covering their body.  They mostly remain under the soil preying upon several insects. Though terrestrial, the larva may even be seen climbing plants at times.

Pupa

The pupal stage occurs in the leaf litters or rotten logs under the soil and finally, the adult beetles emerge in summer.

Egg

The eggs are laid in the soil in clusters or even upon leaf litters.

Quick Facts

Other NamesPennsylvania leatherwing
DistributionThroughout North America
HabitatMeadows, gardens, fields, and in all those places where their host plants grow
Common PredatorsAdults: Spiders, birds, bats
Larva: Ground beetles, spiders
Seasons active fromJuly –September
Host PlantsGoldenrod, and also other flowers like Queen Anne’s lace, damned yellow composite, rattlesnake master, and milkweed
Diet  of larvae and adultsLarva: Grasshoppers, small insects like caterpillars and aphids
Adults: Pollen, nectar, and also eggs of small insects
Chauliognathus pensylvanicus

Identifying the Damage Caused by Them

Though they feed on nectar and pollen, the goldenrod soldier beetles do not chew the flower petals or damage them. These harmless beetles neither sting nor bite.

Did You Know

  • Because of its soft wing covers, it has a striking resemblance to fireflies, though it does not emit light like the latter.
  • They could get infected and even die when struck by a particular fungus (Eryniopsis lampyridarum), though by a specific mechanism, the dead beetles raise their elytra, and expand their wings, giving an impression that they are alive. Males are known to get attracted to the dead females, even seen mating with them.
Goldenrod Soldier Beetle Picture

Image Source: arthurevans.files.wordpress.com, a4.pbase.com, budsbugs.files.wordpress.com, alchetron.com

Golden soldier beetle of the soldier beetle (Cantharidae) family is indigenous to parts of North America. It gets its name from the goldenrod flower that is its main food source.

Goldenrod Soldier Beetle

Physical Description and Identification

Adult

Size: About 12.7 mm (0.5 inches)

Color: They have an orange body with two prominent elongated black spots on their thorax and elytra.

Other Characteristic Features: The goldenrod soldier beetles appear elongated with soft and flexible elytra. Their chewing mouthparts, alongside the long, straight antennae, remain prominently visible on the head.

Pennsylvania Leatherwing

Larva

The dark-colored larvae, long and slender, have a velvety appearance because of the tiny and dense bristles covering their body.  They mostly remain under the soil preying upon several insects. Though terrestrial, the larva may even be seen climbing plants at times.

Pupa

The pupal stage occurs in the leaf litters or rotten logs under the soil and finally, the adult beetles emerge in summer.

Egg

The eggs are laid in the soil in clusters or even upon leaf litters.

Quick Facts

Other NamesPennsylvania leatherwing
DistributionThroughout North America
HabitatMeadows, gardens, fields, and in all those places where their host plants grow
Common PredatorsAdults: Spiders, birds, bats
Larva: Ground beetles, spiders
Seasons active fromJuly –September
Host PlantsGoldenrod, and also other flowers like Queen Anne’s lace, damned yellow composite, rattlesnake master, and milkweed
Diet  of larvae and adultsLarva: Grasshoppers, small insects like caterpillars and aphids
Adults: Pollen, nectar, and also eggs of small insects
Chauliognathus pensylvanicus

Identifying the Damage Caused by Them

Though they feed on nectar and pollen, the goldenrod soldier beetles do not chew the flower petals or damage them. These harmless beetles neither sting nor bite.

Did You Know

  • Because of its soft wing covers, it has a striking resemblance to fireflies, though it does not emit light like the latter.
  • They could get infected and even die when struck by a particular fungus (Eryniopsis lampyridarum), though by a specific mechanism, the dead beetles raise their elytra, and expand their wings, giving an impression that they are alive. Males are known to get attracted to the dead females, even seen mating with them.
Goldenrod Soldier Beetle Picture

Image Source: arthurevans.files.wordpress.com, a4.pbase.com, budsbugs.files.wordpress.com, alchetron.com

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