Thursday, July 16, 2015

Margined Leatherwing (Chauliognathus marginatus)

June 17th. I spotted a number of these…

beetles feeding on flowers of the Hoary Mountainmint (Pycnanthemum incanum) at Fort Yargo State Park on June 17th. They weren’t colorful but were quite striking with their brown and black coloration. I submitted the images to Bug Guide where they were identified as the Margined Leatherwing (Chauliognathus marginatus).

The Margined Leatherwing is one of two species in the genus Chauliognathus; the second species is the Goldenrod Soldier Beetle (Chauliognathus pensylvanicus) also known as the Pennsylvania Leatherwing or Goldenrod Leatherwing. The Pennsylvania Leatherwing is more golden in color than the Margined Leatherwing. 

I realized that I had seen the Pennsylvania Leatherwing in October, 2012 in Stephens County. 

These species are similar in size, ½ to 5/8 inches long, and have tan to yellow-orange elytra. They may be differentiated physically by the markings on the pronatum and elytra. The Pennsylvania Leatherwing has a black spot in the center of the pronatum and two black spots near the tip of the elytra. The Margined Leatherwing has a dark band running from front to back of the pronatum and the patterns on the elytra may vary considerably.

The Margined Leathwerwing will be found in the spring in prairies and grasslands from New York state and Southern Ontario, west to Nebraska, and south to Texas, Mexico, Florida, and the Bahamas. The Pennsylvania Leatherwing will be found in the fall (mainly August-September) in open fields, prairies, grasslands, parks, roadsides, sand dunes and abadoned fields from New Brunwick to Mannitoba and south to Colorado, Texas, and Florida. Both species feed on nectar and pollen. The Margined Leatherwing may be found on a number of different species; the Pennsylvania Leatherwing, because of the time of year, mwy be found primarily on goldenrod. 

These are strikingly attractive beetles. I'm glad I saw the Margined Leatherwing this spring. I’ll be looking for the Pennsylvania Leatherwings closer to home in the fall.

- Philips C., Fread E., and Tom Kuhar T. Department of Entomology, Virginia Tech. Leatherwing(Soldier) Beetles

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