Why Soldier Beetles Deserve the Aphid Belt

It's the Fourth of July and what better time to post images of the aptly name "soldier beetles" than today.

These insects (family Cantharidae) resemble the uniforms of the British soldiers of the American Revolution, which is apparently how their name originated. They're also called "leatherwings" in reference to their soft, leatherylike wing covers.

Like lady beetles, aka ladybugs, these soldier beetles make short work of aphids and other soft-bodied insects. We've seen them devour so many aphids on our plants that they should be awarded the Aphid Belt, similar to Joey Chestnut's famed Mustard Belt.  

Indeed, soldier beetles are eating machines,  just like Joey. 

Wikipedia describes Joey Chestnut (who, by the way, grew up in Vallejo, Solano County), as an "American competitive eater" ranked No. 1 in the world by Major League Eating. In addition to hot dog-eating contests, Chestnut has won contests devouring pizza, wontons, chicken wings, and corned beef sandwiches. And even poutine (french fries and cheese curds, topped with brown gravy).

No aphids, yet, though. Not even sprinkled on pizza slices.