Adult cantharids are active during daylight and are sometimes found in large numbers on flowers and vegetation. They are known to attack other insects, but they may feed as well on pollen, nectar and fresh foliage. Like the Lycidae, they produce defensive chemicals and belong to mimicry complexes. Larvae are common in soil and leaf litter, where they are usually general predators; some Holarctic species, however, are known to be phytophagous.
Elongate, parallel-sided, soft-bodied beetles usually in various combinations of yellow and black or bluish black. Head relatively large and deflexed; labrum membranous and often inconspicuous; antennal insertions well separated; pronotum oval or subquadrate and flattened; 4th tarsal segment bilobed; male genitalia usually large, asymmetrical and exposed. The elytra are usually complete, but they are abbreviated in
from Lord Howe I. Larvae elongate and lightly sclerotised (although often darkly pigmented or patterned), with characteristic clothing of fine, velvety pile. Stemmata well-developed; mandibles more or less falcate; gular region well-developed without or with fused sutures; paired glandular openings on all thoracic and abdominal segments; segment 10 reduced and terminal.
Australian species belong to the genera
, and a particularly common species in the South-East is the greyish-green and orange
. [Brancucci 1980; Crowson 1972b; Lea 1909.]