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The Ubiquitous Goldenrod Soldier Beetle

Goldenrod is a vital source of nectar and pollen during late summer and fall for many insects, including Goldenrod Soldier Beetles, Chauliognathus pensylvanicus.  In fact, it’s unusual not to see one or more of these beetles if you’re near a flowering patch of goldenrod.  One of many species of soldier beetles, Goldenrod Soldier Beetles superficially resemble fireflies, but do not have light-producing organs. 

Their outer wing covers, or elytra, have two prominent brownish-black spots on them and are soft and semi-flexible, unlike most beetles, which have hard, shell-like elytra. For this reason they are also known as Leatherwings. Both adults and larvae produce defensive chemicals from glands in their abdomens that discourage predation from birds, bats and other small predators.

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3 responses

  1. Alice

    Fancy looking beetle, with it’s striped abdomen. We have several hundred Goldenrods, but I’ve never seen one of those beetles. Keep looking! Brown hooded owlet moth caterpillars love Goldenrod..we’ve had 4 of those, total.

    September 26, 2022 at 9:34 am

  2. Are these US specimens I wonder. I don’t recognise them here in the UK.

    September 26, 2022 at 11:27 am

  3. Bill on the Hill

    I’ve seen these insects plenty of times Mary in my fields of goldenrod, milkweed plants & aster flowers here in the highlands of north central VT… Until now, I had not the slightest what this insect was called… I like the name Leatherwing better than Soldier Beetle for some reason… :~)

    September 26, 2022 at 1:18 pm

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