Goldenrod Soldier Beetle

Photo by: Bryan Reynolds

Chauliognathus pennsylvanicus

Goldenrod Soldier Beetles have soft, flexible elytra (wing covers) and resemble fireflies, but do not have light-producing organs. This species is very common in the Midwest and are 12mm long, orange beetles, with two prominent brown-black spots on the elytra. Goldenrod flowers are where they are commonly seen, but they also visit other flowers, including yellow composites, Queen Anne’s lace (Daucus carota), milkweed, rattlesnake master (Eryngium yuccifolium) and other late-summer flowering plants. These flowers are a meeting place to find a mate. No damage is done to the plant, and they o not bite or sting.

Eggs are laid in clusters in soil. The larvae are dark, long, slender, and covered in tiny dense bristles, giving a velvety appearance. Once hatched, they remain in the soil where they can prey on grasshopper eggs, small caterpillars and other soft-bodied insects.

The adults are out from July to September, being most abundant in August. They make their home in fields, gardens, and meadows, where they primarily feed on the pollen and nectar of flowers, but also eat small insects, such as caterpillars, eggs and aphids. Moist soil in meadows and fields makes a great home for them.

Written by: Christian Newkirk, an undergraduate Environmental Science student at the University of Oklahoma