Soldiers on the march

Plague Soldier Beetle

The Plague Soldier Beetle (Chauliognathus lugubris) is back in great numbers on a variety of mainly garden plants. They feed on pollen and nectar. Their orange bodies serve as a warning to predators to leave them alone as they taste horrible (not that I have tried one).

In most beetles the front pair of wings (elytra) are a hard covering that protects the hind pair of wings and the abdomen. The Plague Soldier Beetles are different in that they have soft forewings. The identifying characteristics are dark green fore wings, yellow-orange stripe behind head and orange body up to 2cm long. The larvae live in the soil.

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11 responses to “Soldiers on the march

  1. Can anyone give me some advice on plague soldier beetles. We live in Croydon, Vic, and have a severe infestation – large areas of the lawn are black with them, the trees are laden and I have to sweep them off the aviary and chook pen before I can get in to feed the birds. They have mated over the last few days and I understand will now lay eggs. Did they complete their 12 month life cycle in our yard or have the adults being attracted by our flowering gum? If they’re laying eggs will we have an even bigger problem next year? I would appreciate any help.

    • In my garden the plague soldier beetles seem to only be around in great numbers for a few weeks then they disappear. They seem to be attracted by the spring flowers. I don’t see any damage to plants as they feed on pollen and nectar and on each other. I don’t know if they will be back next year.

  2. The Plague Soldier Beetle infests blossoms of native trees, fruit trees, vegetable plants and other garden plants in such numbers that they can actually weigh down weaker plants. While this may be distressing to gardeners, the plants do not suffer much. This may be because the beetles are too interested in mating to bother eating the plants. Scientists found that in one such infestation 92% of the animals were copulating.

  3. Thanks for your answers. It’s now 2 weeks later and I saw one lone beetle crawling through the grass today but the rest have died, presumably after laying their eggs. Thanks again.

  4. Dish washing liquid & water…. spray bottle. Spray away…. wont harm your plant but will kill the things dead. We have to keep doing it daily & we are killing thousands. It does work,

    We have thousands back each day. We spray again. They die instantly when we spray them. Don’t get a natural one either…. get an orange scented one… they really cant take that,

  5. Another thing which I will mention is that I have read that they can be toxic to birds if eaten. I have one old chicken left and the day after they invaded her pen and surrounds she became unwell and was quite ill (to the point where I thought I would lose her) for about 4 days. I suspect she either taste tested one or, being very fond of sunflower seeds, unwittingly ate one by mistake.

  6. Thanks Jacki, I am heading out immediately to buy some orange detergent as the soldier beetle has taken over my front and backyards. Fine for others to say these beetles are effective pest eradicators but given their plague proportions they have become the pest themselves. It seems that their proportions are hugely growing each year so I am going to give them the `daily treatment’ as well.

  7. We returned home (Croydon North) from holidays 2 weeks ago and the number of these pests has increased to hundreds of thousands! The lawn is crawling with them, our 2 poplars, 2 brush boxes and our giant mulberry are all literally covered in them! The front fence/gate used to be white, not now… So far they’ve hung around for a month. It’s hard to even mow the lawn without inhaling a thick cloud of them. This is the first time I’ve even heard of these beetles, let alone been infested by them! I’m praying that this unwanted gate crasher will pack up and leave, sooner rather than later!!!!

  8. We have just discovered that the black & yellow bugs flying around our Sydney home are soldier beetles, not wasps as originally thought. How long did your infestations last?

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