Soldier Beetles are medium-sized, rather long, with rectangular wing-cases. They are usually black with yellow or red markings behind the head, but sometimes they are tan or yellow with black markings. Soldier Beetles resemble Lightning Bugs in overall appearance, but there is no light-emitting organ. The larvae are often carnivorous and feed on small, soft-bodied insects, while the adults are often found on flowers feeding on pollen or nectar. One of the more common members of this family, Chauliognathus pennsylvanicus (Goldenrod Soldier Beetle), is found on goldenrod and other flowers during the late summer and early fall.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage
|Specimen Records:||1,349||Public Records:||5|
|Specimens with Sequences:||963||Public Species:||3|
|Specimens with Barcodes:||884||Public BINs:||3|
|Species With Barcodes:||120|
Locations of barcode samples
The soldier beetles, Cantharidae, are relatively soft-bodied, straight-sided beetles, related to the Lampyridae or firefly family, but unable to produce light. They are cosmopolitan in distribution. One common British species is bright red, reminding people of the red coats of soldiers, hence the common name. A secondary common name is leatherwing, obtained from the texture of the wing covers.
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, Drilidae, Lampyridae, Lycidae, Omalisidae, Omethidae, Phengodidae (which includes Telegeusidae), and Rhagophthalmidae.
Soldier beetles are highly desired by gardeners as biological control agents of a number of pest insects. The larvae tend to be dark brown or gray, slender and wormlike with a rippled appearance due to pronounced segmentation. They consume grasshopper eggs, aphids, caterpillars and other soft bodied insects, most of which are pests.
The adults are especially important predators of aphids. They supplement their diet with nectar and pollen and can be minor pollinators. Soldier beetle populations can be increased by planting good nectar- or pollen-producing plants such as Asclepias or Solidago.
The Soldier Beetle is native to South eastern Australia and can often be seen in the thousands festooning trees. Researchers at the CSIRO in Australia are currently exploring the wax like substance that protects the Beetles eggs from infection for insight into potential anti-biotic and anti-cancer products 
- Insect of the week: The plague soldier beetle isn't nearly as bad as it sounds CSIRO, 2012 CSIRO news blog (accessed on the 02.04.12)
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