This Northeastern girl is from Pennsylvania and is part of the assassin beetle family. She’s closely related to the lightning bug. Unlike most beetles that have a hard shell protecting their wings, hers are a tough skin, hence the ‘leatherwing’ name.
Her favorite pollen is from the goldenrod flower which gives her another common name of ‘Goldenrod Soldier Beetle’. Her snacking on the pollen helps to pollinate the goldenrod, among the other flowers she visits.
If she’s bothered, she’ll emits droplets of white viscous fluid from pores along her sides. Chemical analysis has shown the secretion contains (Z)-dihydromatricaria acid, an acetylenic compound. This makes her taste kinda yucky, however she does end up on the dinner plate for many birds, bats and other small mammals.
So, next time you see her in your garden, blow her a kiss, ‘cuz she’s looking out for your flowers.
© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl