Soldier Beetles

Cantharis pellucida - Lancashire, England - May 2008

Most of the 40 species of soft-bodied, carnivorous beetles in the family Cantharidae that occur in the British Isles are red and black in colour, usually with black elytra and varying degrees of red and black on the head, thorax and legs.

Cantharis pellucida - Lancashire, England - May 2008

Adults of most species, including C. pellucida, are attracted to nectar-producing flowers such as umbellifers, where they supplement their diet with pollen and nectar...and any other insects attracted to the flowers!

copulating Cantharis pallida
Cheshire, England - June 2007

Cantharis nigricans
Cheshire, England - May 2009

One of the exceptions to the red-and-black theme is C. pallida (above left) which is a rather uniform reddish brown colour.

Cantharis nigricans - East Yorkshire, England - May 2009

Rhagonycha fulva (below) is an abundant species that is commonly found in large numbers on umbellifers. One alternative common name for this insect is the rather macabre Bloodsucker Beetle, despite it being completely harmless.

Common Red Soldier Beetle (Rhagonycha fulva) - County Kerry, Ireland - July 2008

Their habit of conspicuously copulating on umbellifers has also earned them the rather amusing nickname of Hogweed Bonking Beetle!

Common Red Soldier Beetle (Rhagonycha fulva) - Cheshire, England - July 2009