Feeding Roses & Making Compost
Carolyn Parker Photo Interview

Soldier Beetle, Cantharidae- Good Bugs


This little fellow is so popular in the rose garden, that at least two rose lovers I know, prefer his image to their own, on Facebook. 


Roses breath a sigh of relief when he arrives.


The aphids, above, were massed over this entire shurb at 4pm, when I shot this image, some years ago. Can you see our hero climbing up the cane? The next morning every aphid was gone!

Now I'm going to hand the post over to Wikipedia for two paragraphs. (All those lovely links!)

Soldier Beetle, Cantharidae

Soldier beetles are highly desired by gardeners as biological control agents of a number of pest insects. The larvae tend to be dark brown or gray, slender and wormlike with a rippled appearance due to pronounced segmentation. They consume grasshopper eggs, aphids, caterpillars and other soft bodied insects, most of which are pests.

The adults are especially important predators of aphids. They supplement their diet with nectar and pollen and can be minor pollinators. Soldier beetle populations can be increased by planting good nectar- or pollen-producing plants such as Asclepias or Solidago.


Each year, like clockwork, Soldier Beetles enter the garden and devour the aphids on all our roses. When they first appeared I thought they were ugly pests, and tried to capture them in a can of kerosene. After a little observation it dawned on me that they are friends, and actually very cute. I wish I could send you some. How many of you have Soldier Beetles, also called Leatherwings, in your garden?

Why the lady bug picture?

Soldier Beetles complete their tasks after about a month or so. Lady Bugs, in my neck of the woods, are here year round and also enjoy aphids and other pests.


At the end of my previous post, I remarked that I have nothing to do with pesticides. I take that back when it comes to nature's own.


Recently, while working on my bad bugs rose post, I saw this image, by Isabelle Breguet, on FB. Isn't it beautiful? I've never caught a lady bug in action like this. 



After I wrote this post, rose hybridizer Paul Barden commented about how he's grateful for flower flies in his green house. I'd never heard of flower flies and after a google search realized that I had an  image in my own files of said fly.


I assumed this was a native bee. Wikipedia says the stripes are camouflage.


This picture, taken recently, on R. multiflora, looks more like a fly.

My original post was about one good bug, and lady bugs were an afterthought. Friendly internet connections have enriched and broadened the subject.


Now, are you ready for rose BAD BUGS? Click !