So, you need to get rid of soldier beetles from your yard (or your house).
Maybe they’re freaking you out every time you go outside.
Or they’re starting to show up in your house.
Whatever the case, you’ll learn about these topics in this article:
- Whether or not they’re beneficial bugs
- How to ID these beetles from other bugs
- Why you have soldier beetles in your home and garden
- Ways to keep them out of your home
- How to prevent and eradicate soldier beetles
- And more
Bookmark this page for easy reference later. And if you have questions, post a comment and let me know.
Sound good? Let’s send those beetles marching out of your property.
What’s a soldier beetle?
Soldier beetles are a soft-shelled beetle.
They typically feed on flower buds and other small pests, as they’re omnivores.
These beetles have two distinct diets depending on where they are in their lifecycle. They can be a “worm-like” grub as larvae or a full-fledged beetle as an adult.
They’re considered to be beneficial bugs and typically don’t require any intervention to stop. They’re basically nature’s janitors and will keep other bug populations in check.
However, sometimes their population can become quite high and this is when you may need to step in and control them.
They can also be a nuisance when they get inside your home and fly around.
Because of their large size, they can be scary for people afraid of bugs.
The soldier beetle is also known as a leatherwing because of its soft elytra used for gliding through the air and locomotion.
Soldier beetles have a distinct appearance. Depending on the part of the life cycle, you’re either dealing with their beetle larvae or the beetle adult.
Here’s how they look.
Soldier beetle larvae are about 0.5” in length and are usually black or brown. They may also be lighter colors of tan and red. They’re often described as “worms” or “caterpillars,” though neither are correct terms. They may be confused with maggots or grubs, but the larvae have a ton of small hairs (bristles) that make them appear to be silky.
Adult beetles have some striking colors. Soldier beetle adults can be orange, black, and patterned.
Their soft elytra allow them to fly. They’re similar to lightning bugs, but they don’t emit any glow.
They have elongated shapes and straight wings and antennae, and they can be found low to the earth and hide within plants, flowers, bark, and more. They have 6 visible limbs and 2 antennae.
Adults range in length up to 1” depending on the species.
How do I identify a soldier beetle?
They’re quite easy to identify compared to other bugs because of their tan coloration.
Their wings are straight along their narrow body and each wing has an obvious black spot. The soldier beetles vary slightly in color depending on where they live and their local environment.
They’re often confused with fireflies, but it’s easy to tell the difference because soldier beetles don’t emit any light at night. They’re also confused for a wasp when they’re in mid-flight because of their quick buzzing pattern.
Soldier beetles have a simple life cycle just like most other beetles.
They start out as larvae which will feed on other smaller pests and eggs. They’ll hibernate during the cold season and emerge as adults in the spring.
This is when the adult beetles will hide in moist, wet plants and eat breed, and stalk their prey.
The adult females will seek out moist and rich soil to deposit their eggs.
Soldier beetles have life cycles similar to any other beetle. After all, they are beetles.
The adult females deposit eggs after mating and the larvae emerge from the egg in the fall. The larvae will eat eggs of other pests in your yard, which actually make their larvae beneficial compared to other bugs.
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This is why soldier beetles can actually be a good bug to have.
Emergence as an adult beetle and diet
The larvae eat other smaller larvae and soft-bodied bugs as they feed. Then they hibernate in the soil when winter comes and stay in there until spring.
Soldier beetle larvae do hibernate and will seek shelter to hide from the elements and the cold weather. They can use soil, leaf debris, or plant matter scattered all over the lawn.
After the springtime comes and the weather warms up, the beetles emerge as adults and will look for flowers that are brightly colored. They’re attracted to flowering plants like zinnia, marigold, and goldenrod, which is strange because other pollinators like bees hate these plants.
They’ll fly from flower to flower and help pollinate your plants, similar to how bees pollinate up to 80% of crops.
Thus, they’re often mistaken for a “bad pest” when in reality they’re quite beneficial.
Are soldier beetles good to have?
This is why some people actually want to find out how to attract them to your yard.
They don’t damage your plants. They eat up other pests to control the population. And they help pollinate your plants.
What more could you ask for?
Some people want to attract soldier beetles to their yard, as they’re considered a beneficial bug. That’s why you’ll be hard-pressed to find much info online to get rid of them.
What do soldier beetles eat?
Soldier beetle larvae are pollinators of plants, but they don’t care about plants.
Their larvae will eat the eggs of other bugs.
They can even eat the larvae that are crawling around, so this is why they can be beneficial for homeowners as they reduce the number of other pests.
And the adults will eat any other soft-bodied pest that comes their way. They often hide within a plant until another bug wanders nearby.
The adults will also consume flower nectar and pollen, so they’re considered to be omnivorous compared to soldier beetle larvae which are more carnivorous.
Do they bite?
Soldier beetles are harmful to humans and don’t bite or sting.
They don’t have the piercing mouthparts that other biting pests have. These gentle pests have chewing parts that they use to eat other bugs and plant matter.
If anything, you should consider them to be a natural predator that helps control other bugs in your yard. And they work for you 24/7. For free.
Do they damage flowers?
Although they have chewing parts in their mouth, they rarely do enough damage to do permanent damage to your plants.
They extract the nectar and help pollinate your plants, but will rarely do any damage to harm your buds. They may chew and take a sample of your plants here and there, but this is definitely not enough to do any damage.
So they’re harmless to humans and flowers. And only eat the eggs or larvae of pests.
And they help pollinate your plants! It seems like a good bug to have. The only problem is when they get out of control because of their breeding habits.
How to attract more soldier beetles
If you want to get more of these beneficial bugs to your garden, here are some tips on attracting them.
Although you can’t force them to come to your property, you can make your yard more attractive to them by planting the flowers they like.
Unlike most other pests that are repelled by plants like zinnia and marigold, soldier beetles actually like them.
Plant colorful and bright flowers in your yard to help bring more of them to your property.
You can also plant daisies, sunflowers, tulip, plumeria, dahlia, lotus flower, and chrysanthemum. All of this helps attract more of them to your yard.
But, if you have way too many soldier beetles, you’ll want to find out how to get rid of them. Or at least control their numbers so your yard isn’t overrunning with them.
Where are soldier beetles found?
Soldier beetles are found all over the United States, but often in temperate or warmer states like California, Kentucky, and Oregon.
They’re often found hiding in plants and shrubs as they wait for their prey to wander nearby.
Then, they’ll fight and wrestle with their prey as they consume them.
You’ll find the adults active during the peak summer to early autumn. They usually start to come out in late July and will continue to do their thing until September.
Soldier beetles are often found in pairs. This usually consists of the male beetle guarding the female, or they can be found mating.
The adult beetles will be found on flowers like zinnia and goldenrod. They’ll mate, eat, and wait for prey as the plant offers them everything they need.
They’re considered to be beneficial pests, but when you have too many of them, they can really start to make your yard overly infested with pests. The larvae and adults continue to forage all throughout the summer.
Soldier beetles can become a nuisance too. These pests can find their way into your property and start to really “bug” you.
Where do they live?
Soldier beetle larvae hide and consume eggs of other bugs or even their larvae.
They can hide in a variety of places that protect them from the elements, like:
- Plant debris
- Tree bark
You may also find them eating potato, celery, and other plants.
The majority of larvae stay in chambers to hide from predators until the spring when they emerge as adult beetles.
Soldier beetle adults hide in flowers and plants to breed, eat, and stalk prey. They spend most of their time doing this.
You’ll find them hiding in the flower buds when you do your gardening outside. They eat nectar, pollen, and other soft pests.
At what time of year would you find soldier beetles most active?
Soldier beetles are active in the summer, as with most bugs.
They come out when the temperatures pick up and will be active in your flowering buds, trees, and shrubs.
You’ll find them most active throughout the summer to autumn as this is when they mate, eat, and deposit eggs.
How to get rid of soldier beetles naturally
There are a few techniques you can do at home to get rid of them from your property.
Most of these are natural methods so you don’t need to deal with nasty residues. Always use natural or organic control methods before resorting to commercial brands.
Seal up entryways around your home
Do you have soldier beetles in your home?
Although these pests are native to wildflowers and lush, moist environments, sometimes they can find their way into the property.
Check around your home and repair or replace any possible entry points for beetles.
These are the most common points of entry:
Gaps between foundation and siding
- Damaged window or doors screens
- Damaged vents
- Weatherstripping gaps
- Cracks and seams around the foundation
- Crawl spaces and voids
Seal up and caulk all openings in your walls and you should be able to prevent a handful of pests from ever entering your home.
Maintain your garden
Your yard is a huge attractant for these beetles as it provides them a place to eat, breed, and forage for predators.
If you have a plant selection that includes a bunch of flowering, brightly colored plants, you’re just asking for beetles to infest your garden!
They’re preferable to these environments and will also seek out moist soils and plants.
Keep your yard maintained and free of debris to make these beetles stay out.
Consider doing the following:
- Keep your plants pruned at all times
- Clean up all plant debris
- Clean up plant matter
- Don’t overwater
- Don’t fertilize more than you need to
- Eliminate hiding places (dense plants and shrubs)
- Eliminate or repel other pests, as the adult soldier beetles eat them for food
Obviously, this won’t be easy to do if your yard is unkempt.
However, find a weekend to clean it up (or several weekends) and you’ll see a reduction in soldier beetles and other pests altogether.
The ecosystem will balance when you adjust the food availability. And this is completely natural.
Just think about it this way: you clean up your yard and you get rid of them the soldier beetles at the same time.
Attract predators that eat soldier beetles
There are a few predators that naturally eat soldier beetles. You can try to attract these natural predators to your yard to help bring their numbers down.
Of course, you need to find out what predators are native to your area. Or else you’ll have difficulty trying to get these bugs over to help you out.
These predators may help control soldier beetles by eating them:
- Yard frogs
- Assassin bugs
- Stink bugs
Check what predators you have in your area and find out how to attract them to help you out.
For example, you can set up birdbaths and bird feeders to help bring in more birds to your yard which can control the beetle population.
Use neem oil
Neem oil can be found in commercial pesticides, but you can get the oil on its own without the other harmful residues.
You can get some neem oil and mix it with water, and then spray it on your flowers. Note that neem oil can be destructive to plants if used in high concentrations, so you need to use it as directed.
Also, test it on a single flower before applying to the entire plant. Some people or pets may be sensitive to neem oil, so use with caution.
The oil can burn plants when used improperly. You should hose off your plants after applying the spray.
Use a supersonic pest repellent
Some pest repellents emit sounds and claim to repel beetles and a variety of other bugs.
Whether they actually work or not seems to be debatable.
Regardless, they are “green” as they don’t use any harmful chemicals and only rely on emitting a high-frequency sound that humans can’t hear.
Some even use only solar power, so you don’t even need a power outlet to run them.
Read some reviews and do your research- they can be a quick and simple solution assuming you find one that works for you.
Consult a professional exterminator
When you just don’t have the time or expertise to get rid of them, hire a licensed professional to take care of it.
That’s their job and that’s what they do. Check resources online for organic or natural pest elimination if possible.
Use a commercial pest killer
If you need to use a commercial pesticide, buy something with pyrethrin, as it’s proven to be effective against a variety of beetle species.
heck out the product’s package label and find the active ingredients.
Pyrethrin can be found in low concentrations and still be an effective pesticide to protect your plants against beetles.
How do you control soldier beetles?
Soldier beetles will often simply disappear for the season on their own and don’t need any intervention from homeowners.
However, if there’s a lot of them, you may use a combination of natural control methods like plant pruning, using predators, and just waiting it out will suffice.
The most effective, proven technique? Just prune your plants and cut off the flower buds (bright ones).
This will effectively deter them from your garden when they discover that there are no more flowers for them to eat.
No flowers to eat? No breeding activity. This stops them from overpopulating.
Since the larvae consume eggs and larvae of other bugs, keeping your yard maintained overall will reduce the number of pests.
It’s a combination of:
- Keeping your yard clean
- Reduce other bugs
- Attracting natural predators to eat them
- Eliminating their food source by pruning plants
Most soldier beetles don’t need any treatment and the ecosystem will balance out. They don’t damage your plants.
And by keeping your home in tip-top shape, this will help keep them out of your property for good.
What do beetles hate?
Beetles hate a variety of strongly scented oils, like peppermint, lavender, neem, and garlic.
You can use essential oils to help deter and repel soldier beetles from your plants. You just need a drop or two in a cup of water.
And then spray it on your plants. Always test it on a single plant first.
Otherwise, you can try using supersonic repellers, pruning your plants, or attracting predators that eat them.
How do you deal with a soldier beetle infestation?
You don’t. Soldier beetles tend to leave the area by themselves and you don’t need to do anything.
They’re a beneficial bug just like bees and you may as well leave them there.
But if you’re tired of them coming into your home, consider patching up your house to prevent them from getting into your house.
That’s actually easier than trying to get rid of the beetles.
Plus, it’ll help you block out a bunch of other home-dwelling bugs.
What attracts beetles to your house?
The soldier beetles have no business getting into your home.
They only reason you’ll find them there is that they accidentally flew in
There are a few other reasons why you may find them in there:
- You bought some plants that were already infested with eggs
- They’re attracted to the houseplants
- You have flowering plants on your windowsills
- Your house is in a state of disrepair and allows bugs to sneak through
Why are soldier beetles in my house?
They didn’t wander through your window on purpose. Soldier beetles in the home are likely there by accident. They may have gotten in your home through the window or open door.
You can get rid of them in your house just by blocking them out.
Or through some crack in your weatherstripping or a damaged window screen. Who knows. Keeping your home in a state of repair will help keep them out.
During the springtime, the adults emerge from the soil and take flight for the first time. If conditions were favorable, you may see a ton of soldier beetles coming out.
Since the adult females deposit eggs around the same time for that generation, you can expect that the adults will hatch within days of each other. If they had plenty of food and a low number of predators or threats, this leads to high fecundity.
And thus, you’ll have a ton of adult beetles in the spring when the temperatures start to pick up.
So that’s the “why” as to having your home patched up and protected from the outdoors. By doing so, you have a lower chance of them getting into your room.
Here are some references you may find useful:
- Soldier Beetle – Horticulture and Home Pest News
- Soldier beetle – Wikipedia
- Soldier Beetle Beneficial Insect – Harvest to Table
Did you get rid of the soldier beetles?
By now, you should have a good understanding of what you need to do to get rid of them from your property.
Be patient, persistent, and stick to a plan. These beetles don’t hang around your yard all year round, so even if you can’t get rid of them all, they’ll be gone by the winter.
Consult a professional exterminator for assistance.
If you have a question, just post a comment and I’ll get back to you.
Thanks for reading.
Currently an active researcher in the pest control industry for the past 8 years- with a focus on using natural and organic methods to eliminate pest problems.
I share handy DIY pest techniques I come across here to help out others (and possibly save them from a mental breakdown).
Fight nature with nature.