Goldenrod Soldier Beetle
Common Name: Goldenrod Soldier Beetle.
Scientific Name: Chauliognathus Pennsylvanicus.
What to look for? Goldenrod Soldier Beetles resemble lightning bugs. They have an elongated body with beautiful burnt orange forewings (elytra) with black oval accents. Unlike most beetles, which have hard wing covers, Goldenrod Soldier Beetles have an unusually soft and flexible elytra. The elytra does not quite cover the tip of their abdomen – appearing like being dressed in tiny tailcoats. The black head of the Goldenrod Soldier Beetle is very visible and not concealed by the pronotum or covering over the thorax. In addition to the marks on the forewings, they have two black spots on their thorax. They have chewing mouthparts. And they have two long, straight antennae. Their legs are completely black. Larvae are dark gray and cloaked in a thick, velvety coat of fine hairs.
Where can they be found at Carillon Stonegate Pond? During late summer, Goldenrod Soldier Beetles may be found on some of the Canada Goldenrod plants that grow around Carillon Stonegate Pond and over at Stonegate Park.
How big are they? The Goldenrod Soldier Beetle averages approximately one-half of one inch in length. Their larvae are typically three-quarters of one inch in length.
What are their flight patterns? Goldenrod Soldier Beetles are quite active and readily fly. They are said to look like wasps in flight.
How else do they behave? Goldenrod Soldier Beetles they travel to new flowers in search of dinner and a date. And similar to bees, they can be seen moving quickly and often between flowers.
What’s for dinner? The Goldenrod Soldier Beetle feeds on pollen and nectar of autumn flowers, especially goldenrods (Canada Goldenrod, Early Goldenrod), but also Black-eyed Susan and Rattlesnake Master. They are also predators of plant pests like aphids, small caterpillars, and other insect eggs. Larvae feed on locust eggs, insect larvae, and cucumber beetles.
Where do they take up residence? The Goldenrod Soldier Beetle lives throughout the U.S. They reside in open fields, prairies, grasslands, parks, and roadsides.
When and where do they breed and nest? Goldenrod Soldier Beetles go through complete metamorphosis: egg, larval, pupal, and adult stages. At the end of the summer, the adult female lays clusters of eggs in soil or leaf litter. When the eggs are hatched, the larvae feeds on the soil level and predates other soft bodied insects like grasshopper eggs, small caterpillars, and aphids. Larvae overwinter as pupae in leaf litter or rotten logs and emerge as adults in summer. Larvae transform into pupae in early summer with adults first emerging in late July. There is one generation a year.
Where do they migrate? Goldenrod Soldier Beetles do not migrate.
Do they make any interesting sounds? No.
Interesting Facts About the Goldenrod Soldier Beetle:
Soldier beetles in the genus Chauliognathus earned their name from their red and black coloration, similar to British military uniforms in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Golden Soldier Beetles are the most common soldier beetles in the Midwest.
Soldier beetles are beneficial to agriculture, since they pollinate plants, and some – like the Goldenrod Soldier Beetle - feed on aphids and other insects injurious to crops.
Soldier beetles protect themselves by secreting defensive chemical compounds to make them a less attractive target for predators.
For more information on the Goldenrod Soldier Beetle and sources of information used in this blog (these are the several of the sources that I am using to learn as I blog), please visit Kansas State University Kansas Bugs, Florida Wildflower Foundation’s Know Your Native Pollinators, Iowa State University Bug Guide, and Wichita State University Ninnescah Life.
The Carillon at Stonegate community is very fortunate to have a variety of wetland, forest and prairie environments conducive to a variety of birds and other wildlife, insects and plants. Our community and the Kane County Forest Preserve do an exceptional job in maintaining this natural environment – both for the benefit of the birds and wildlife and for our residents to enjoy.
Take a hike and see what you can find – and identify!