Two Soldier Beetles

Cantharis decipiens
Cantharis decipiens

During the spring and summer months you may come across a range of soldier beetles as they feed in meadows and hedgerows. Both these species are fairly common and widespread. The adult beetle and the larvae are both hunters of soft-bodied insects, but the adults are often seen feeding on pollen.

Cantharis rufa
Cantharis rufa

 


Top image May 2012, bottom image May 2010, local field and woodland margins, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2010 and 2012.

Cantharis rustica

Cantharis rustica

This soldier beetle has a blackish elytra, a bright red pronotum with a dark central marking. The femora are also red. Length 12 to 16mm.

It feeds on other invertebrates. Seen May to June, and found in flowery habitats, including hedgerows, scrub, woodland margins and various grass places. Common and widespread, except for the far north.


May 2014, local woodland margin, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2014.

 

Cantharis pellucida

Cantharis pellucida

This soldier beetle has dark greyish elytra, a black shiny head and a bright orange-red  pronotum. The legs are entirely reddish-orange or with some black. Length 9 to 12mm.

It feeds on other invertebrates.

Seen May to July, in flowery habitats, including hedgerows, scrub, woodland margins and various grassy places. Common and widespread throughout Britain.

Photograph of Cantharis pellucida taken May 2014, local woodland margin, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2014. Camera used Nikon D3200, with Sigma 105mm macro lens.

Cantharis nigricans

Cantharis nigricans

I see quite a number of these brightly coloured soldier beetles on my walks in spring and summer, but although they all may initially look the same, there are several species which can lead to some confusion in identification.

This soldier beetle has dark greyish elytra, a bright orange-red or orange-yellow pronotum which has a dark central marking which varies in size, and may also be absent. The antennae and legs are reddish-orange, except for the hind legs which are mainly black extending beyond the knee. Length 9 to 11mm.

It feeds on other invertebrates.

Seen May to July in flowery habitats, including hedgerows, scrub, woodland margins and various grassy places. Common and widespread throughout Britain.

Photograph of Cantharis nigricans taken May 2014, local woodland margin, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2014. Camera used Nikon D3200, with Sigma 105mm macro lens.