Soldier Beetle

Cantharis ?

Soldier Beetle, Cantharidae, a beneficial insect in Zea mays in Eldoret, Kenya. Photo © by Michael Plagens

Observed in a Maize field at Eldoret, Kenya, July 2014. Length is about 11 mm. The larger beetle is the female and the smaller male is on top.

From Wikipedia: The soldier beetles are relatively soft-bodied, straight-sided beetles, related to the Lampyridae or firefly family, but unable to produce light. They are cosmopolitan in distribution. One of the first described species has a color pattern reminiscent of the red coats of early British soldiers, hence the common name. They are also known commonly as leatherwings because of their soft elytra.

Cantharidae are all predaceous. It is likely that these beetles help by feeding on maize insects and their eggs. But they also feed on pollen - the large quantities shed by the maize tassles are a food source. The immature larvae should be searched for among decomposing leaves and stalks of maize following harvest.

Cantharidae -- Soldier Beetle Family

More Information:

Kenya Natural History

Copyright Michael J. Plagens. Page created 23 Oct. 2014.