By Arthur V. Evans

The goldenrod soldier beetle, Chauliognathus pennsylvanicus (DeGeer) (9-12 mm).

Late summer and early fall is the time for goldenrod soldier beetles, Chauliognathus pennsylvanicus (DeGeer). Adults feed on pollen from various flowers, especially goldenrod (Solidago), growing in gardens, parks, fields, meadows, and along roadsides and woodland edges.

These conspicuous beetles are often used as research subjects by scientists studying mating behavior, color polymorphism, dispersal, and genetics. This common and widespread species is found over much of eastern North America, ranging from southeastern Canada south to Florida, west to Colorado and Texas.

The margined leatherwing, Chauliognathus marginatus (Fabricius) (7-15 mm).

The head of these conspicuous and aposematically marked beetles is black and the pronotum is wider than long. By contrast, the head of the early spring/early summer margined leatherwing (C. marginatus), has a thick v-shaped mark, while the pronotum is longer than wide. The dark elytral spots of both species are either confined to the posterior half of elytra or extend along their entire length.

Dead and contorted soldier beetles are sometimes found on plants with their mandibles imbedded in stems or leaf edges. These beetles have succumbed to an infection by Eryniopsis lampyridum, a fungal pathogen that also attacks other insects. The open wings of the fungal victims are thought to enhance dispersal of the killer fungus’ spores.

© 2010, A.V. Evans


  1. […] at What’s Bugging You? also has a series of beetle posts this past month. He takes a look at Goldenrod Soldier Beetles, Triceratops Beetles, and Eastern Hercules Beetles. The massive Hercules beetles are especially […]

  2. Gorgeous page and terrific content!

  3. jillian Gibson Says:

    finally i have identified my garden pest they are like aliens taking over can someone please tell me how to get rid of this garden pest

    • This species generally does not harm garden plants and feeds on pollen and nectar. Is it possible that you have another species of beetle in your garden? Do you have a picture of your insect? What kind of damage is your garden suffering?

  4. Laura Daniel Bryson Says:

    I am pleased to finally know the name of this friendly beetle. I routinely see them all over my sunflowers in August and September here in central IL.

  5. I’d never seen these until I moved to West Virginia, and now I have several. Glad to know they don’t eat plants. We have enough of those anyhow. Great blog.

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