Invasion of the Thunder Bugs
Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 8:01 PM
My cousin and I were riding our bikes through our subdivision in Arizona when we noticed a huge congregation of these red, yellow, and black bugs on the sidewalk next to a construction sit. It was more toward the middle of August and about 98 degrees F*. They were pretty big, 1.3 – 2 inches long, and quite fierce looking (their coloring reminded us of a thunder/firestorm), although, even with the ultra efficient-looking wings, they didn’t fly when we came near and were actually a bit sluggish. We did want to touch them, but, quite content with our bite-free, scratch-free, sting-free hands, we ultimately settled for a photograph. So, to cut a long story in a concise little request: we were sort of hoping you could help us identify them?
Andy and Chipi
Dear Andy and Chipi,
Every once in a while we receive a photo that we consider spectacular. We absolutely love your photo of Iron Cross Blister Beetles. These flashy beetles make appearances in Arizona and California in the spring. While handling Iron Cross Blister Beetles, or any other Blister Beetles for that matter, would probably not result in bites, scratches or stings, there is a very good chance it might result in blisters since the beetles secrete a substance known as cantharidin, the blistering agent. It is also the legendary Spanish Fly, the aphrodesiac made from ground Blister Beetles.