December 12, 2017

Common Red Soldier Beetle (Rhagonycha fulva)

Having finally managed to acquire the macro lens I’ve been wanting for over a year, I find I am too busy to use it. I shouldn’t grumble really because my time is being otherwise engaged by the recent arrival of number two son, Samuel James, alongside the already busy schedule dictated to some extent by number one son and budding naturalist, Joe. The rest of my time is taken up with a frankly unrealistic workload, but when one is self employed one has to take the chances when they present themselves.

Having got the Sigma 150mm Macro, generally regarded as a bug hunter’s lens, I find myself even more drawn to the invertebrate world. Having created a series of interesting habitats in the garden over the past few years, now is the time for them to pay me back.

Habitat number one has been easily created and is already pretty rewarding; I’ve left a pretty substantial swathe of grass un-mown directly next to my vegetable patch this year and over the past couple of weeks, it’s been heavily populated by these attractive insects. This species is one of a number of Soldier Beetles (Cantharidae) and most likely to be the one which gave the genus this title, their red colour being thought to resemble the red coats historically worn by the British Army into battle.

Common Red Soldier Beetles are extremely valuable to gardeners as the larvae predate slugs and snails, a character trait which is highly prized by us organic gardening types. The adults themselves are also predatory of other insects which visit the umbellifers they so often frequent.Indeed I’ve been familiar with them for many years and had rather actually assumed them to be a kind of flower beetle, because they also eat the pollen and drink nectar, so it was particularly satisfying to find out that they also really relish aphids!

 

Comments

  1. We have so many of this little chaps in the meadow this year, and I’ve always been a bit concerned they are “bities”! Loving your work with new lense…stunning.

    • Fear not! They’re not bitey, unless you’re an aphid. You are may things, an aphid is not one of them :)