What Do Soldier Beetles Eat?

  • By: CarlBroadbent
  • Time to read: 4 min.
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If you spend a lot of time in the garden, you’ll notice a lot of wildlife even right down to insects and bugs.

One of the most common in North America is the soldier beetle but many people commonly mistake it for a wasp or a firefly.

But gardeners are also unsure about whether the soldier beetle is a valuable creature to have in the garden and the good news is that it is!

Soldier beetles eating habits
Soldier beetle feeds on pollen

But if you’re looking to attract them, you’ll need to know what do soldier beetles eat?

As larvae, the soldier beetle will prey on invertebrates which live on the ground such as snails and slugs. Once they reach adulthood, these fascinating little critters eat everything from aphids to pollen. 

Since the soldier beetle feeds on pollen, it is an excellent pollinator for your garden and certainly an animal you will want to attract.

Moreover, the aphid is one of the most common pests for a huge variety of plants so having a few soldier beetles around the garden may help in eradicating this problem. 

But there is so much more to learn about these amazing insects and in this guide, we’re going to get your better acquainted. 

Identifying a Soldier Beetle

Red soldier beetles, to call them by their proper name, aren’t actually red.

Instead, they have more of an orange hue and they’re pretty shiny.

Identifying a Soldier Beetle in your garden
Identifying a soldier beetle

At the end of the wings, you’ll notice a black patch and this black can also be found on the feet. 

The soldier beetle can measure up to around a centimeter although the females are typically a little larger than the males.

They have a narrow, rectangular body and their antennae are rather large in comparison to their bodies. 

You’ll normally spot adult red soldier beetles in the daytime and they’re usually around in the warm summer months between June and August.

The sunnier and brighter it is, the more soldier beetle activity you are likely to see.


What’s Interesting: When spotted during the summer, the soldier beetle will almost always be seen as a pair and they favour plants with an open structure, for example, hogweed.


The Life of the Soldier Beetle

The reason that soldier beetles are most commonly spotted between June and August is because this is when the adults are alive.

The Life of the Soldier Beetle
Soldier Beetle

Some will last through until September although this isn’t overly common.

They’ll spend their lives searching for food like aphids as well as nectar and pollen but they also spend a lot of time mating and this is something that you can easily find them doing when observing them in your garden.

In fact, they are so commonly at it that they have lovingly earned the nickname ‘hogweed bonking beetle!

Once they have mated, the females choose a spot in the soil to lay their eggs which then hatch into brown larvae.

These larvae live among long grass and leaf litter and will eat invertebrates such as slugs and snails.

They’ll pupate during springtime ready to emerge as an adult at the beginning of summer and thus the cycle restarts. 

Why Soldier Beetles Are So Good for the Garden

Right from the word go the soldier beetle is a hugely beneficial creature to have in your garden as even the larvae will prey on pests like slugs and snails.

Why Soldier Beetles Are So Good for the Garden
Soldier beetles are good for garden

Once they reach adulthood, they’ll be attracted to a wide variety of flowering plants, feeding on the pollen which is great news for your garden.

While there are a lot of flowers that they like, you’ll find they go particularly crazy for things like goldenrod, marigolds, and zinnia. 


What’s More: These beetles are no threat to humans. They cannot sting or bite you and they aren’t toxic. It’s perfectly viable that you and they can live side by side in your outdoor space. 


How to Attract Soldier Beetles to Your Garden

Now that we know how good soldier beetles are for your garden and that they will do you no harm, you’re likely wondering how you can attract them to your yard.

In fact, they’re so beneficial that, during the summer, they rival bees for the title of ‘best pollinator.’

How to Attract Soldier Beetles to Your Garden
Attracting Soldier Beetles

If you’re looking to attract them then you’ll need to have the right plants and flowers in your garden.

If you grow herbs, it can be a good idea to allow some of them to flower as soldier beetles love this.

Moreover, you should make sure that you have a lot of bright flowers in your garden such as various species of daisy and marigolds.

But goldenrod is pretty much a dead cert in attracting these critters so be sure to plant some. 

Conclusion

The soldier beetle is a great addition to your garden and it will help with pollination but will also ensure that pests are kept at bay.

Of course, if you want to make the most of these beetles you will need to have the correct plants; things like marigolds and goldenrod are sure to bring a thriving community of these beautiful little creatures. 

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