The family name, Cantharidae, means “blistering fly” and probably refers to the chemical this beetle releases when it is threatened causing blisters on skin that comes in contact with it. Sometimes they are called leatherwings because the elytra are not as hard as in other beetles but softer and “leathery” looking. This is an elongated beetle with a yellow body, dark olive-green wing cases (elytra) and a yellow-orange stripe behind its head. One species is a red colour instead of yellow and this apparently reminded the person who named it of the ‘red coat’ soldiers and hence the name.
The larvae have a segmented body covered in fine hairs giving them a soft, velvety look with yellow horns on their head, prominent black mouth parts, and tiny legs. They look like black caterpillars and are often found around compost heaps and under mulch.
Adult size: 15 mm