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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

23 October, 2015

Soldier Beetle: Cantharis nigricans

My first memories of soldiers dates back to pictures of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1953. I remember seeing the 'reds' and the 'blues' on their horses accompanying the state coach to Westminster Abbey. With soldier beetles we have the 'reds', the so called 'bloodsucker' beetles, and the blues represented by this little chap, Cantharis nigricans. Actually Cantharis nigricans is more grey than blue but for me they are still the 'blues'!
There is some debate, it seems, as to why they are called soldier beetles but their bright colours recalling the tunics of soldiers is certainly one reason put forward and understandably so. However, the common red soldier beetle is so numerous in summer it is as though there are armies of them and hence the name of soldier beetle for that particular species and that has then been applied to the family as a whole. Cantharis nigricans is far less common that the red soldier beetle and one does not see armies of the 'blues'.
Cantharis nigricans has a preference for damp vegetation where it wanders across leaves looking for small insects

Read more: Soldier Beetle: Cantharis nigricans