Plague Soldier Beetles

As anyone who has ever visited Australia during the warmer months will know, there are at least 1 duodecillion – 100013 – creepy-crawlies for every man, woman and child and each of them wants to swarm near you, land on you, crawl on you, startle you, bite you or kill you.

This week’s swarm is called the ‘Plague Soldier Beetle’ (Chauliognathus lugubris) – a big name for an insect that really causes no damage whatsoever. It is generally brought on in large numbers in temperate areas when conditions have been warm and wet from late winter to early summer, so this year, that means me. Here is a rare sight….just one:

Plague_soldie_beetle

Just the one? That’s not too bad, let’s venture away from the house….

So, moving away from the house, this is how they normally appear (click to enlarge):

They actually generally feed on nectar, so are something of a pollinator, and their larvae feed on other insects (both beneficial and pests) so they are really aren’t a bother in the garden. They are, however, everywhere, which makes them something of a nuisance.

Being poisonous and therefore eaten by nothing, they have absolutely no fear whatsoever, only casually moving away if you interrupt their almost continual mating.

Happy Gardening 🙂

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26 thoughts on “Plague Soldier Beetles

  1. I’ve seen these around my neck of the woods too. And yes, they are always doing the deed. Do you get funnel web spiders too? Or bullet ants? Those are two insects/arachnids I could do without running into.

    In the summer, I get tarantula hawks in my yard. Huge buggers! Also the second most painful sting/bite in the insect Kingdom. First most painful being the bullet ant.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We do get funnel web spiders 😦
      When I moved in, there was a nest of about 50 of them living under the 2′ of the leaf-litter that had accumulated on the car port roof.
      Thankfully we don’t have bullet ants. I’ve seen those rituals…they can keep that rite of passage to themselves.
      I don’t ever fancy running into a tarantula hawk (or a tarantula) either!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Egads! 50 of them? Nope, nope no. I’ve read that they are super aggressive, is that the case? The tarantula hawks are okay by me. When I see one, I keep my distance without letting it out of my sight. This summer I’ll get some photos to post for posterity. They are impressive in size and color. About 3 1/2″ long sometimes! I figure, if they’re killing tarantulas, then we’re on the same team. But that sting though! I hear that most recipients just ask for death as a better alternative… Hmm.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yep, they sure are, I had dozens of these angry males rearing up after I disturbed the roof of the carport. And the female spiders were about the size of your fist. It’s the only occasion I have ever called in a pest controller in my life…..!

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  2. I think we all forget that many insects other than bees pollinate our flowers, I was only reading yesterday that beetles are the usual pollinator for Magnolias. As long as they don’t cause damage I can live with most insects but usually large numbers mean they will cause some kind of damage.

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    • Thankfully these appear to be the exception to the rule. While there isn’t much literature on these (surprising really as they invade Sydney & Melbourne every few years when conditions suit them) other than to say they are harmless. I try and keep them out of the house so that the cats don’t eat them!

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  3. Soldier beetles are actually native to North America and are generally considered to be beneficial. In addition to acting as pollinators, in their larval stage they eat a wide group of pest insects and their eggs, including grasshoppers, and in their adult stage they eat aphids. I’m sure it’s creepy to see them swarm, though. In South Carolina we have two new beetles from China, the stink bug (Halyomorpha halys) arriving in 1998, and kudzu bug (Megacopta cribraria) arriving in 2009, which are agricultural pests. I wish the soldier beetles would eat them!

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    • I know, gardening in the UK is so gentle! But we don’t have so many of the really destructive plant pests, we don’t have voles or gophers and deer & rabbit numbers are reasonable enough to not worry about. But summer-time is certainly time for bugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I don’ t think I will be visiting you there. It sounds so beautiful but you just have too many poisonous creatures and horrible creepy crawlies. I’ m surprised you ever go outside without protective clothing and gauntlets.

    Liked by 1 person

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