Soldier Beetles and Hummingbirds

I’m always a little alarmed when I see a lot of the same bug on a plant.  Sawfly larvae, japanese beetles.  It’s like a marauding gang has landed.  So, when I saw dozens of mustard colored beetles on the Tardiva hydrangea, I had a sinking feeling that I once again had uninvited guests.

Soldier Beetle

Thanks to the internet, though, I identified my new visitors as Soldier Beetles.  And, it turns out they are very beneficial bugs.  Soldier Beetles are related to Fireflies (we call them Lightening Bugs). They eat aphids, other insect eggs, and larvae.  They are also excellent pollinators.  Apparently they come in a variety of colors.  In England, they are red and were named after the British army uniforms.

Soldier Beetle

 

 

 

 

Tardiva is in full bloom right now, and so is Limelight.  This is the bittersweet time in the garden.  The lilies have faded.  The echinacae are beginning to look tattered.  The liatris blooms have reached the tip of their long stalks.

But the hummingbirds are beginning to migrate south and this morning, three of them are feasting on the garden.  They perch on a powerline then flit about the garden, chasing each other, it seems.  I wonder if these are juveniles who hatched earlier this summer.  The only hummingbird native to Michigan is the Ruby Throated Hummingbird.  They have been known to eat insects, sometimes plucking them mid-air.  Forgive the very blurry picture.  This was the best I could get from my kitchen window.  These little guys just won’t stay still long enough for me to focus, adjust light settings, etc.

Ruby Throated Hummingbird