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Soldier beetles abundant but harmless

The goldenrod soldier beetle, Chauliognathus pensylvanicus, is a common insect in gardens during late summer. They can be very abundant on flowers but fortunately are harmless.

A typical goldenrod soldier beetle. 
Note the pollen on its head and legs.
Photo: Jeff Hahn, U of M Extension

This soldier beetle is about ½ inch long or less. It has a somewhat flattened, oval body with wing covers that are soft and leathery. While its head and legs are black, the prothorax (the area behind the head) and the wing covers are a yellow brown. There is a rectangular black spot on the prothorax and an oval black spot on each wing cover.

Soldier beetles are active fliers and readily fly from plant to plant. They are common on goldenrod and other flowers in open areas August into September. Adult beetles feed on pollen and nectar and help pollinate plants. The larvae, rarely seen, are predacious on a variety of insects.

Even though this soldier beetle is often numerous on flowers, they are harmless and should be ignored.  For more information about the goldenrod soldier beetle, see BugGuide.

Author: Jeffrey Hahn, Extension Entomologist
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