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Species Chauliognathus pensylvanicus - Goldenrod Soldier Beetle

Goldenrod soldier beetle - Chauliognathus pensylvanicus Grindelia lanceolata with unknown insect - Chauliognathus pensylvanicus Chauliognathus pensylvanicus Orange and Black - Chauliognathus pensylvanicus Pollinator - Chauliognathus pensylvanicus Soldier beetle - Chauliognathus pensylvanicus Chauliognathus pensylvanicus - male - female Beetle - Chauliognathus pensylvanicus
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)
Subfamily Chauliognathinae
Tribe Chauliognathini
Genus Chauliognathus
Species pensylvanicus (Goldenrod Soldier Beetle)
Other Common Names
Pennsylvania Leatherwing, Goldenrod Leatherwing
Explanation of Names
Chauliognathus pensylvanicus (DeGeer 1774)
pensylvanicus = 'of Pennsylvania': According to ICZN, the intended original spelling of the species name (no matter how bizarre) remains valid unless demonstrated to be the result of a typographical error. The later writers often intentionally or unintentionally corrupt the original spelling, and their versions get entrenched in the literature. As Andrew H. Williams (2006, The Great Lakes Entomologist 39: 200-218) wrote, "The beetle usually referred to as Chauliognathus pennsylvanicus DeGeer over the past century was first described by DeGeer (1774) as Telephorus pensylvanicus. The spelling 'pensylvanicus' was used by LeConte (1869, 1881), Hubbard (1880), Schwarz (1880) and Riley (1880), though Riley (1869, 1872, 1873) had earlier used the spelling 'pennsylvanicus'. At the time of DeGeer, 'Pensylvania' was a common spelling, so his original spelling should not be considered incorrect." --Peter Messer, 8.viii.2008
9-12 mm(1)
very distinctive(1)
e. NA (NB-MB to FL-TX-CO); rare in the Boreal zone(1)
open fields, prairies, grasslands, parks, roadsides; also alvars, sand dunes, abandoned fields(1)(2)
mostly Aug-Sep
Adult: pollen and nectar of fall flowers, esp. goldenrod (Solidago)(2); larvae feed on locust eggs, insect larvae, cucumber beetles, and other Diabrotica spp.(3)
Chaulignathus [sic] pennsylvanicus was the only consistent pollinia-carrying Coleopteran visitor on three species of milkweed studied in the vicinity of Bloomington, Indiana. (Kephart & Theiss 2004)
Life Cycle
Eggs deposited in soil or leaf litter; pupation in spring in the soil (Carner 1980)
a popular model in mating behavior, color polymorphism, dispersal, and genetics research(2)
Sometimes found dead on flowers, infected with an entomopathogenic fungus (Wheeler 1988):

Eryniopsis lampyridium is a fungus that infects this beetle. When infected, the beetle climbs to the top of the goldenrod stalk and dies. About 15-22 hours later, the dead host's wings open in a mating pose. Unwitting suitors are then exposed to the fungal spores which cover the abdomen of the host.(4)
See Also
Chauliognathus marginatus or Margined Leatherwing. Notice the difference on the shape of the dark spot on the pronotum
Print References
Carner G.R. (1980) Entomophthora lampyridarum, a fungal pathogen of the soldier beetle, Chauliognathus pennsylvanicus. J. Invertebrate Pathology 36: 394-398 (Abstract)
Kephart, S. & K. Theiss (2004) Pollinator-mediated isolation in sympatric milkweeds (Asclepias): do floral morphology & insect behavior influence species boundaries? New Phytologist 161: 265-277. (Full PDF)
Wheeler A.G., Jr. (1988) "Violent deaths" of soldier beetles (Coleoptera: Cantharidae) revisited: New records of the fungal pathogen Eryniopsis lampyridarum (Zygomycetes: Entomophthoraceae). The Coleopterists Bulletin 42: 233-236. (Full text)
Internet References
Works Cited
1.The Cantharidae of Eastern Canada and Northeastern United States
Pelletier G., Hébert C. 2014. Canadian Journal of Arthropod Identification 25.
2.Beetles of Eastern North America
Arthur V. Evans. 2014. Princeton University Press.
3.Introduction to North American Beetles
Charles S. Papp. 1984. Entomography Pubns.
4.The Lives of Fungi
Britt A. Bunyard. 2022. UniPress Books Limited.