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

Family Cantharidae - Soldier Beetles

Soldier Beetle - Rhagonycha recta Beetle - Cultellunguis perpallens BG2409 C7288 - Atalantycha bilineata soldier beetle - Dichelotarsus cavicollis Unidentified Insect 61 - Chauliognathus pensylvanicus GROWISER Podabrus - Podabrus falli Soldier fly? 9060080 Cantharid - Polemius - male - female
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Coleoptera (Beetles)
Suborder Polyphaga
No Taxon (Series Elateriformia)
Superfamily Elateroidea
Family Cantharidae (Soldier Beetles)
Other Common Names
Explanation of Names
Cantharidae Imhoff 1856
common names: 'soldier beetle' comes from bright coloration resembling military uniforms; 'leatherwing,' for soft, flexible elytra
>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
Subfamily Cantharinae
Subfamily Silinae
Subfamily Malthininae
Subfamily Chauliognathinae
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)
worldwide and throughout NA(1)
Adults mostly on vegetation, often on flowers; larvae in leaf litter, loose soil, rotten wood, etc.(1)
Adults eat nectar, pollen, other insects; larvae are fluid-feeding predators, feed on insect eggs and larvae(1)
active mostly during the day, but some come to lights(1)
See Also
Osphya varians (Melandryidae)
- Range: e. NA

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...