Number 74 • March 17, 2010 • Jeffrey K. Barnes

Pennsylvania leatherwing
Order: Coleoptera
Family: Cantharidae
Genus and species:Chauliognathus pensylvanicus (De Geer)

Pennsylvania leatherwingPennsylvania leatherwing

The Pennsylvania leatherwing is a distinctive orange and black beetle from the eastern United States, ranging as far west as Texas. Adults can be found in abundance visiting goldenrod and many other kinds of flowers in mid to late summer. They are regarded as a characteristic prairie inhabitants. Prairies offer diverse nectar sources throughout the growing season. However, unlike many prairie specialists, the Pennsylvania leatherwing also is often present in disturbed, early successional habitats. Adults are active during the heat of the day. Modified mouthparts enable them to feed on nectar. Reports of pollen feeding have been passed down through the literature, but they need confirmation. Adults feed in the open, oblivious to potential predators, and protected to a degree by their bright aposematic coloration, which apprises predators of their antifeedant glandular secretions. Larvae are generalist predators that take refuge in the ground litter. They have also been known to feed on cracked corn. They feed for some time, pass the winter in diapauses, feed again in the spring, and then pupate in soil. This species has only one generation each year.