Soldier Beetle

Chauliognathus lewisi (?)

A soldier beetle, Chauliognathus lewisi, photo © by Mike Plagens

Observed along lower Madera Canyon, Sta. Cruz Co., Arizona, USA. September 2010. Length is about 13 mm.

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Unlike many beetles, the elytra are soft and flexible rather than being a hard shell. Soldier beetles also tend to move slowly and not make a significant effort to escape. The reason for this is the presence of the compounds cantharidin within their bodies. These are bad tasting and toxic to the beetles' usual predators. Soldier beetles as adults are frequently found on open flowers where they feed on pollen. As the move between plants they might serve the roll of pollinator. The immature beetles are active grubs that inhabit the soil surface beneath leaves where they are insect predators.

There are several similar-looking species of soldier beetle that could be found in or near Arizona's sycamore woodlands.

Cantheridae -- Soldier Beetle Family

More Information:

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Arizona Naturalist
Sycamore Canyons
Invertebrates in Arizona's Sycamore Canyons


Copyright Michael J. Plagens, page created 23 July 2012