Cantharis livida - Soldier Beetle

Phylum: Arthropoda - Class: Insecta - Order: Coleoptera - Family: Cantharidae

Soldier Beetle

One of the commonest waterside beetles, this terrestrial insect is found in lowland and upland areas wherever there is rough grassland. Look out for Soldier Beetles wherever you see lots of thistles of various kinds as well as members of the family Apiaceae (formerly referred to as the umbellifers) such as Wild Carrot, Hemlock Water-dropwort and Hogweed.

Soldier beetles on Wil Carrot flower head

Above: Soldier Beetles mating on flower head of Wild Carrot

On breezy summer and autumn days, quite a few soldier beetles get blown onto the surface of streams and lakes, and they are an important food source for trout at such times, when aquatic insects are scarce. (The majority of aquatic insects are on the wing in spring and early summer.) For more information about the Soldier Beetle, and tying details of suitable artificial flies, including the superb pattern pictured below, which was devised by Taff Price to imitate this important insect of upland streams and lakes, see Pat O'Reilly's guide to Matching the Hatch.

Artificial Soldier Beetle, pattern devised by Taff Price


O'Reilly, Pat. (1st Edition 1997; 8th reprint 2010; fully revised 2nd Edition 2017) Matching the Hatch. Shrewsbury: Quiller Publishing.

Foster G. N. & Friday L. E. (1988) Key to adults of the water beetles of Britain and Ireland (Part 1). Taunton: Field Studies Council.

Harde K.W. & Severa F. (1984) Field Guide in Colour to Beetles. Littlehampton Book Services.

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