Photographer's Note

Soldier Beetle - cantharis fusca. This chap is the same type as in this photo. Soldier Beetles (family Cantharidae) are considered to be beneficial insects. These good bugs are predators to a host of bad bugs including cucumber beetles, aphids, spider mites, various caterpillars, grasshopper eggs, beetle larvae and other insects and their eggs. While both the adults and larvae are predators, the adults will supplement their diet with pollen from plants such as wild lettuce, milkweed, hydrangea, and goldenrod - good things to have growing in your garden to encourage them to stay.
The adult beetles resemble fireflies, but don’t light up. They are slender, elongate, relatively flat insects, 1/3 - 1/2 inches long with a narrow, black abdomen, a bright red head or thorax and long, leathery wing covers.
I was in the process of focussing on this beetle climbing up a straw, when he suddenly decided to take off. As focus was already there, I managed to get this one photo of him with his leathery wing covers sticking to each side and his softer flying wings spread out. You can see that all six legs are bent, ready for push-off, and he's also curved his tail end backwards to help the uplift. Fractions of a second after the photo was taken, he was airborne and flitting away real fast ;-)
Treatment: Crop, contrast +10, brightness +5, saturation +10, USM and resize.

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Additional Photos by Bente Feldballe (milloup) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 608 W: 65 N: 329] (1829)
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