This is a friend. Red soldier beetles larvae eat the larvae and eggs of other beetles (which may eat our plants), moths, slugs, snails, and grasshoppers.
Adult soldier beetles eat mainly flower pollen and nectar, but do add aphids and other sap-sucking insects to their diet when these are available.
It's one lucky garden that has these soldiers on guard against pest insects.
Red soldier beetles start to appear now until fall. They are important pollinators, necessary to set seeds and fruit on our crops. While red is the main colour, they also come in yellows and browns. That's a soldier beetle on the white astrantia.
Like lady bugs, they spend the winter in wood piles or in cracks or under the bark of trees. If the opportunity is there, they may live under our house siding and try to come inside. They are harmless; just sweep them up gently and them outside.
Editor’s note: This is another installment of a weekly on-line feature from the South Delta Garden Club which runs on the Optimist website every Tuesday.