Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada

Family Cantharidae - Soldier Beetles

Soldier Beetle pupa - Podabrus planulus Leatherwing - Cultellunguis ingenuus Soldier Beetle larva Soldier Beetle - Dichelotarsus piniphilus Black and orange soldier beetle - Podabrus tomentosus Cantharidae, pronotum - Rhagonycha Lepidoptera Beetle - Malthodes - male
Classification
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Coleoptera (Beetles)
Suborder Polyphaga (Water, Rove, Scarab, Long-horned, Leaf and Snout Beetles)
No Taxon (Series Elateriformia)
Superfamily Elateroidea (Click, Firefly and Soldier Beetles)
Family Cantharidae (Soldier Beetles)
Other Common Names
Leatherwings
Explanation of Names
Cantharidae Imhoff 1856
common names: 'soldier beetle' comes from bright coloration resembling military uniforms; 'leatherwing,' for soft, flexible elytra
Numbers
>470 spp. in 23 genera in our area(1), ~5100 spp. in 160 genera worldwide(2)
Overview of our fauna* –taxa not yet in the guide
Family CANTHARIDAE
Subfamily Cantharinae
Subfamily Silinae
Subfamily Malthininae
Subfamily Chauliognathinae
Identification
Adult beetles are soft and somewhat flattened, with parallel sides, long legs and long, usually threadlike antennae. Many species colorful--aposematic (1). Lack light organs. Head typically protrudes (somewhat) from under pronotum--mostly visible from above, unlike in Lampyridae. Tarsal formula 5-5-5, with the fourth segment lobed:

Larvae usually velvety:


Keys to eastern spp. in(3)
Range
worldwide and throughout NA(1)
Habitat
Adults mostly on vegetation, often on flowers; larvae in leaf litter, loose soil, rotten wood, etc.(1)
Food
Adults eat nectar, pollen, other insects; larvae are fluid-feeding predators, feed on insect eggs and larvae(1)
Remarks
active mostly during the day, but some come to lights(1)
See Also
Lampyridae (fireflies)
Internet References
Works Cited
1.American Beetles, Volume II: Polyphaga: Scarabaeoidea through Curculionoidea
Arnett, R.H., Jr., M. C. Thomas, P. E. Skelley and J. H. Frank. (eds.). 2002. CRC Press LLC, Boca Raton, FL.
2.Order Coleoptera Linnaeus, 1758. In: Zhang Z.-Q. (ed.) Animal biodiversity: An outline of higher-level classification...
Ślipiński S.A., Leschen R.A.B., Lawrence J.F. 2011. Zootaxa 3148: 203–208.
3.The Cantharidae of Eastern Canada and Northeastern United States
Pelletier G., Hébert C. 2014. Canadian Journal of Arthropod Identification 25.
4.Lawrence J.F., et al. (2000-2005) Elateriformia (Coleoptera): descriptions, illustrations, identification...