The Soldier Beetle Insect Cantharris rustica is a Northern Hemisphere soldier beetle. It is usually found on flowers, where it feeds on insects. The beetle is sometimes used by anglers as bait for trout. Body length up to 0.6 inches (15 mm).
- Common name: Soldier beetles
- Family: Cantharidae
- Suborder: Polyphaga
- Order: Coleoptera
- Class/subphylum: Insecta/Hexapoda
- Number of species: About 5,500 (about 460 US)
- Size: Mainly in the range 04-0.6 in (1015 mm)
Key features: Body mainly black, brown, yellowish, or dull reddish color; often fairly narrow, almost parallel-sided, becoming slightly wider toward the rear end; elytra cover the abdomen only loosely; rather soft body compared with most beetle.
antennae mostly long and threadlike, sometimes comblike or sawtoothed; head plainly visible from above; larvae often densely bristly
Habits: Adults often conspicuous, Soldier Beetles feeding in large numbers on flowers or perched on foliage, seldom moving far or fast; larvae mainly carnivorous, rarely seen, living beneath loose bark, under fallen logs, or in damp ground
Breeding: Mating takes place in daytime, often on flowers or leaves and may last many hours or even days, males often fight for possession of females, who will sometimes cannibalize their mates during copulation
Diet: Adults feed on nectar, pollen, or soft-bodied insects, Soldier Beetles mainly carnivorous, feeding primarily on soft- bodied helpless prey such as insect and small caterpillars
Habitat: Grasslands, hedgerows, gardens, forests, and mountainsides; rarely in deserts
Distribution: Worldwide, but commonest in temperate areas.