Other Soldier Beetles Cantharis/Rhagonycha

There are many species of soldier beetle (some 40 in the UK alone), elongated carnivorous beetles often found on flowers. The name soldier is after the elongated form and red and black uniforms that soldiers used to wear.

Livida Soldier Beetle Cantharis livida

Livida Soldier Beetle
Livida Soldier Beetle
Livida Soldier Beetle underside
The "Livida" Soldier Beetle is large, at 11-14mm long and has a pale/red and a dark form. The pale or red form is shown. The dark form has black wing cases. A key distinguishing mark is the black spot on the crown. It also has no markings on the thorax and has a black band on the end of the back thighs, black hind tibia but otherwise red legs.

Figurata Soldier Beetle Cantharis figurata

Figurata Soldier Beetle
Figurata Soldier Beetle
The "Figurata" Soldier Beetle has two forms. The orange form shown is an orange colour with a black head, orange face, mainly black legs and a distinctive "figure" marking on the thorax/pronutum. However the pronutum can be plain, with no mark. It is 6-8mm long. A usual variant of this orange form has an orange head and face with dark patches behind the eyes like C. rufa. The alternative form is dark with a wholly black pronutum and dusky dark wing cases.

Limbata Soldier Beetle Rhagonycha limbata

Limbata Soldier Beetle
Limbata Soldier Beetle
The "Limbata" Soldier Beetle is the Rhagonycha genus, the same as the Common Red Soldier Beetle, rather than Cantharis. The key visual differences between these genera cannot be seen on most general photos (needs close up of feet) nor in the field; for the curious: the third tarsal segment of Rhagonycha is not lobed and both claws on the foot are split, rather than only one claw split!! Distinguishing features of the brownish Limbata, which is only 4-6mm, are the black head, black thighs and black pronutum markings - all shared with variants of rufa and figurata. In addition, the small scutellum on the back is black (rufa and figurata are red/orange). (R. testacea is similar but has pale red thighs/legs.)

Pellucida Sailor Beetle Cantharis pellucida

Pellucida Sailor Beetle
Generally the soldier beetles with black or dark blue (or grey or very dark green) wing cases are called "sailor" beetles since their "uniform" looks more naval than army. The "Pellucida" Sailor Beetle is some 9-12mm long and has blackish wing cases, black head, red face, red pronutum and red thighs with black middle and hind tibia. Unlike the Rustic Sailor, there is no marking on the pronutum.