Gotta love those soldier beetles.
They're among the good guys in the garden because they eat aphids and other soft-bodied insects.
We've seen them on the lavender, on our nectarine tree and on our plum tree. Last weekend, a single soldier beetle (family Cantharidae) winged its way to our patch of rock purslane (Calandrina grandiflora).
It dropped down and sat on the bud of a rock purslane, looking for all the world like a frog on a lily pad or a toad on a toadstool or a king on his throne.
Or, maybe this soldier beetle was really a general surveying his troops.
Gotta love those solider beetles (family Cantharidae).
When an army of soldier beetles goes on patrol in your garden, just thank them. These "leatherwings" are there to mete out justice to the plant-sucking aphids and other undesirable critters. Aphids are high on their menu preferences. So are grasshopper eggs, caterpillars and other soft-bodied insects.
The Cantharids look almost comical as they scoot down limbs and leaves--and then suddenly run out of room. We watched this one (below) reach the end of a leaf. Its antennae twitching furiously, it paused and looked around for another foothold.
No more leaf. Just air. End of the line.
They're good soldiers, those soldier beetles.
Members of the family Cantharidae, they are beneficial insects that eat other insects, especially aphids and caterpillars--but just about any soft-bodied insect will do. If no insects are available, you'll see them dining on nectar and pollen.
We saw these soldier beetles, with their long, narrow reddish-orange bodies and brownish-gray wing covers, on our rose bushes this morning.
As aphids scooted up and down the steps and leaves, so did the soldier beetles. Three formed a "troop" in a three-gun salute.
California is fortunate to have more than 100 species of these "soldiers of fortune." They're also called leather-winged beetles or leatherwings. Check out their long, threadlike antennae.
If you see soldier beetles in your garden, savor them. They're the good guys.
Please pass the aphids.