Soldier Beetles in Nottinghamshire
There are about 40 UK species of Soldier Beetles which belong to the Cantharidae family of beetles. Many species are common in Nottinghamshire and are a frequent sight on thistles and umbelliferous flowers during the Summer months. Some of the red Cantharidae beetles, were often commonly referred to by schoolboys as Bloodsuckers. They are however, completely harmless.

The identification of individuals is not always easy, although with practice, many can be readily identified in the field. There are certain pitfalls when identifying any Soldier Beetle, but the purpose of showing them collectively here, is to create an awareness of the range of species found within most areas of the Nottinghamshire countryside. Most of the beetles in the following photographs, were identified through a combination of measurement of body length in the field and using photographs taken at the time to check markings and colouration.

Sizes vary per species and (as in most insects) there are also variations within species. Most are easily found on long grass, flower heads and other foliage. They are generally conspicuous beetles and in the case of Rhagonycha fulva, often sufficiently common enough to the point of being abundant at any one site.

Cantharidae larvae live on the ground and are carnivorous, feeding on smaller insects. The adults are also carnivorous, but greatly attracted to flowers where they probably catch and eat other flower visiting insects.

Species photographs
Cantharis cryptica (Ashe, 1947)
  Cantharis dicipiens (Baudi, 1871)
Photographed at Sherwood Forest, June 2007   Photographed at Sherwood Forest CP May 2008
Cantharis figurata (Mannerheim, 1843)
  Cantharis lateralis (Linnaeus, 1758)
Photographed at Warsop Main Pit Top June 2011   Photographed at Bradmer Hill June 2008
Cantharis livida (Linnaeus, 1758)
  Cantharis pallida (Goeze, 1777)
Photographed at Sherwood Forest May 2008   Photographed at Warsop Main Pit Top, June 2007
Cantharis nigra (De Geer, 1774)
  Cantharis nigricans (Müller, O.F., 1776)
Photographed at Warsop Main Pit Top, June 2011   Photographed at Clipstone Old Quarter May 2006
Cantharis pellucida (Fabricius, 1792)
  Cantharis rustica (Fallén, 1807)
Photographed at Clipstone Old Quarter May 2006   Photographed at Sherwood Forest May 2008
Cantharis thoracica (Olivier, 1790)
  Rhagonycha fulva (Scopoli, 1763)
Photographed at Eakring Meadows July 2009   Photographed at Sherwood Forest May 2007
Rhagonycha limbata (Thomson, C.G., 1864)
  Rhagonycha lignosa (Müller, O.F., 1764)
Photographed at Sherwood Forest CP May 2008   Photographed at Sherwood Forest CPJuly 2008
Malthinus flaveolus (Herbst, 1786)
  Malthinus seriepunctatus (Kiesenwetter, 1852)
Photographed at Sherwood Forest CP July 2008   Photographed at Caunton June 2009
Malthodes marginatus (Latreille, 1806)
  Malthodes minimus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Photographed at Clipstone Old Quarter May 2011   Photographed at Eakring Meadows June 2010
Rare Cantharidae in Nottinghamshire

The list of Cantharidae shown in the table on the right, are known to have occurred in the county.

Source:- Nottinghamshire Local Biodiversity Action Plan - Appendix A: List of species of conservation concern in Nottinghamshire. S.Wright.

Cantharis obscura   Nb
Malthinus frontalis   Nb
Malthodes fibulatus   Nb
Rhagonycha lutea   Nb
Rhagonycha translucida   Nb
RDB1: Endangered. Species which have shown a rapid continuous decline over the last twenty years, and now exist in 5 or fewer 10km squares of the national grid.

RDB2: Vulnerable. Species likely to move into RDB1 in the near future, as most or all populations are declining. Found in 15 or fewer 10km squares since 1980.

RDB3: Rare. Species with small populations which are localised or thinly scattered, but not at present qualifying for RDB1-2. Found in 15 or fewer 10km squares since 1980.

RDBK: Species believed to be rare but too recently discovered to be categorised easily.

RDBI: Red data book indeterminate. Species believed to be rare, but for which data on their distribution is insufficient to allow a grade to be assigned.

Na: Nationally Scarce Grade A. Recorded in 16-30 10km squares since 1980.

Nb: Nationally Scarce Grade B. Recorded in 31-100 10km squares since 1980.

p indicates a provisional status. As in all lists, a name in bold type indicates UK Long List.

[ ] indicates species which have not been recorded in the County since the publication of The Invertebrate Fauna of Nottinghamshire by J.W.Carr in 1916. It is believed that these species are likely to still be present.

Beetle Photo Gallery - Thumbnail version
Beetle Photo Gallery - Text version