–by Dr. Raymond Cloyd
Hordes of goldenrod soldier beetle, Chauliognathus pennsylvanicus, adults are now feeding on goldenrod (Solidago spp.) (Figure 1) and other flowering plants. Adults are extremely abundant feeding on the flowers of wild onion (Allium spp.) (Figure 2), and can also be seen feeding on linden trees (Tilia spp.) in bloom. Adults, in fact, can be seen feeding and mating simultaneously. The goldenrod soldier beetle is common to the western and eastern portions of Kansas.
Fig 1. Goldenrod Soldier Beetle Adults Feeding On Goldenrod Flowers (A.–Raymond Cloyd, KSU)
Fig 2. Goldenrod Soldier Beetle Adults Feeding on Wild Onion Flowers (A.–Raymond Cloyd, KSU)
Adults are about 1/2 inch (12 mm) long, elongated, and orange with two dark bands located on the base of the forewings (elytra) and thorax (middle section) (Figure 3). Adults are usually present from August through September. Adult soldier beetles feed on the pollen and nectar of flowers; however, they are also predators, and will consume small insects such as aphids and caterpillars. Flowers are a great place for the male and female soldier beetle adults to meet, get acquainted, and mate (there is no wasting time in the insect world J) (Figure 4). Soldier beetle adults do not cause plant damage. Sometimes adults will enter homes but they are rarely a concern. The best way to deal with adults in the home is to sweep, hand-pick, or vacuum.
Fig 3. Goldenrod Soldier Beetle Adult (Author–Raymond Cloyd, KSU).
Fig 4. Goldenrod Soldier Beetle Adults Mating (A.–Raymond Cloyd, KSU)
Adult females lay clusters of eggs in the soil. Each egg hatches into a larva that is dark-colored, slender, and covered with small dense hairs or bristles, which gives the larva a velvety appearance. The larva resides in soil feeding on grasshopper eggs. Occasionally, the larva will emerge from the soil to feed on soft-bodied insects and small caterpillars.