Soldier Beetle





Local Names

Soldier Beetle





DNA Barcode


Soldier beetle (Cantharidae)
The soldier beetles (Cantharidae) are relatively soft-bodied, straight-sided beetles. They are cosmopolitan in distribution. One of the first described species has a color pattern reminiscent of the red coats of early British soldiers, hence the common name. They are also known commonly as leatherwings because of their soft elytra.
Historically, these beetles were placed in a superfamily "Cantharoidea", which has been subsumed by the superfamily Elateroidea; the name is still sometimes used as a rankless grouping, including the families Cantharidae, Lampyridae, Lycidae, Omethidae (which includes Telegeusidae), Phengodidae, and Rhagophthalmidae. Soldier beetles often feed on both nectar and pollen as well as predating other small insects. The larvae are often active, velvety, often brightly-colored, and they feed on the ground, hunting snails and other small creatures. The oldest described member of the family is Molliberus from the Early Cretaceous (early Albian) aged El Soplao amber from Cantabria, Spain, belonging to the tribe Cantharini in the subfamily Cantharinae. Other described genera include 6 from the early Late Cretaceous (early Cenomanian) aged Burmese amber, with 5 belonging to Cantharinae and one to Malthininae, and Katyacantharis, from the Cenomanian aged Agdzhakend amber of Azerbaijan, suggested to belong to Cantharinae. Indeterminate specimens have been reported from the Aptian aged Koonwarra fossil bed of the Strzelecki Group, Australia and the Barremian aged Lebanese amber.