Posted by: Ross Gardner | June 25, 2020

Some soldier beetles

Isn’t there a saying about someone with an inordinate fondness for beetles?  When it comes to the natural world I think I may have an inordinate fondness for more or less everything.  This post is nevertheless, the turn of some of those hard-cased, so very diverse band of insects.

Most in the UK are familiar with the Common Red Soldier Beetle (Rhagonycha fulva), whose black tipped, reddish colouration has been said to recall the military uniforms of old, hence (if this is true) the name.  They are an abundant summer insect, often smothering the white umbels of hogweed and the like in search of pollen.  They are however, just one of 40 or so British species of soldier beetles (the Cantharidae), a few of which I have met with recently……

Cantharis nigricans - Pound Wood

Cantharis nigricans (Pound Wood, Essex) is a hunter of small insects among the low vegetation and perhaps also on the rich pickings attracted to umbellifer flowers.  Note the greyish hue to the elytra (wing-cases) and the black on the hind legs (a bit difficult to see here) extending above the ‘knee’.

Cantharis rufa - Pound Wood

Cantharis rufa. Another species found in Pound Wood yesterday and one of several orange-brown species. Note the black band above the ‘knees’.

Cantharis fusca - Hadleigh Countyr Park

Cantharis fusca is quite a large species, usually well over a centimetre long. This one was photographed a few weeks back at Hadleigh Country Park. Note how the black mark on the thorax joins with the black of the head (the black mark on the similar and common C. rustica is in the centre of the thorax, surrounded by red).


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