Beneficial Insect: Soldier Beetles
These beetles are related to fireflies. Just like our fiery friends, we also like to keep these soldiers around as they prey on pests that may be lurking among your plants.
Adult Soldier beetles are elongated slender, and nearly flat with 1/3-1/2” bodies. They often have downy, leathery wing covers. The larvae are flattened, elongated, dark colored and usually covered with hairs.
Females lay eggs in the soil. Newly hatched larvae remain inactive for a short period before developing. Larvae overwinter in the soil and pupate in the spring. There can be up to two generations per year.
Pests They Control
Both larvae and adults prey on cucumber beetles, corn rootworms, aphids, grasshopper eggs, caterpillar and beetle larvae.
How to Attract and Keep Them
- Provide them a diversity of plants which produce pollen. They consume pollen in addition to pest insects. Choose: goldenrod, hydrangea, catnip, milkweed and wild lettuce.
- Leave weeds such as goldenrod, milkweed and wild lettuce.
- Protect pupating beetles by maintaining some permanent plantings where the soil is not disturbed, allowing the larvae to pupate.
Good Bug, Bad Bug by Walliser 2008
The Organic Gardener’s Handbook by Ellis and Bradley 1996
Interested in learning more? The Grower’s Library at Johnny’s Selected Seeds may have the information you’re looking for.