National Pollinator Week: Soldier Beetles

What a happy combination—soldier beetles and butter daisies!

The soldier beetle, Chauliognathus spp., is a ½ inch long insect that gets its name from its wing covers, which resemble a uniform. It may remind you of the lighting bug, and rightly so, since they are related. Both the larvae and adults of soldier beetles feed on other insects, which makes them beneficial. This beetle is sometimes unfairly blamed for being a plant pest.  Their presence on flowers as they lie in wait for prey is the main reason the soldier beetle is thought to be damaging plants, when the reality is they are hunting.  Occasionally, the soldier beetle will move from flower to flower as they eat pollen and nectar, making them an unexpected pollinator too.

The butter daisy, Melampodium divaricatum, is an annual in the Aster family and is outstanding planted in flower beds and container gardens.  It needs 6 or more hours of direct uninterrupted sunlight daily. Butter daisy grows 1 to 2 feet tall and is gaining a following from savvy gardeners who like its bright golden yellow flowers as a cheery no-fuss addition to the garden.

Serendipity—butter daisies and soldier beetles!

soldier beetle, Wyatt DeWeese

Kathleen Cue
Horticulture Program Coordinator at Nebraska Extension
Kathleen serves as a Horticulture Program Coordinator. She educates people on making smart plant choices to reduce use of fertilizers and pesticides in their landscape which has a positive impact on air, water, soil and environmental quality, property values and people’s pocketbooks. She provides leadership and coordination of the NE Extension in Douglas-Sarpy Counties Master Gardener volunteer programs: the Master Gardener Speakers Bureau, and "Ask the Master Gardener" Consultations.

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