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The soldier beetles (Cantharidae) are relatively soft-bodied, straight-sided beetles, related to the Lampyridae or firefly family, but unable to produce light. They are cosmopolitan in distribution. One common British species is bright red, reminding people of the red coats of soldiers, hence the common name. A secondary common name is leatherwing, obtained from the texture of the wing covers.
Historically, these beetles were placed in a superfamily "Cantharoidea", which has been subsumed by the superfamily Elateroidea; the name is still sometimes used as a rankless grouping, including the families Cantharidae, Drilidae, Lampyridae, Lycidae, Omalisidae, Omethidae, Phengodidae (which includes Telegeusidae), and Rhagophthalmidae.
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