Pics 1 – 3: These rather attractive pair of Soldier Beetles take their name after the red and black colours reminiscent of an old-fashioned soldier’s uniform. When not mating, Soldier Beetles are active predators, hunting on flowers and leaves in sunny weather, looking for small insects. Soldier Beetles occur commonly in rough flowery places such as woodland margins and glades, hedgerows and scrub, and are widespread throughout most of Britain, except the far north.
Mating pair of what I suspect are Cantharis rustica. Looking closely one can see that it is not the Cantharis fusca. It differs in two ways. First of all, the legs have a tinge of red and are not all black. Secondly, notice the black mark on the middle of the pronotum (the squarish disk between the head and the wing cases/elytra) this mark on the fusca extends further from the wing cases to the head.
As can be seen, Soldier Beetles have red and black heads, a red thorax with a black spot and dark bluish-black soft elytra; the legs are mainly red as in this Cantharis rustica or entirely black as in the Cantharis fusca.
Pics 4 & 5: First attempt at trying out an environmental macro capture with Canon G12 set to its widest focal length (roughly 28mm). By setting it to manual focus I was able to have the lens literally within a few centimeters from the mating beetles. The minimum focal distance on the G12 is an incredible 1cm! The 5.6 aperture may not equate to much depth of field on a DSLR sensor but on the smaller G12 sensor it’s probably the equivalent to 14f. This along with the wide angle setting makes it a feasible option for environmental macro shots.