Soldier beetles







Chauliognathus lugubris

Leatherwings, Plague soldier beetles


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

Out and about

They like hot, humid conditions. Adults appear in spring, sometimes in plague numbers if there has been a wet winter. There are at least 3,500 species throughout temperate and tropical regions. This species is native to Australia, occurring from the subtropics on the east coast down to the cooler areas of Tasmania.

Reproduction and Life cycle

The female mates once a year in summer and lays her eggs in the soil. The eggs hatch in autumn and the larvae feed in the soil for up to a year pupating over winter and emerging as adults in spring.

To deter

To control

Plants to repel

Plants to attract

Single-flowered marigolds / golden rod / daisy family and native shrubs and trees.


Why they are Beneficial
Adults of some species feed on aphids and other soft bodied insects and supplement their diet with nectar and pollen. Other species only feed on nectar and pollen. They help to pollinate the flowers. The larvae live in the soil and feed on other small creatures such as the larvae and eggs of beetles, moths and grasshoppers.