Currently viewing the category: "Blister Beetles"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Larger than a Boxelder
Location: Mound, MN
May 25, 2016 7:00 am
Dear Bugman,
This largeish black bug, with orange and black legs, and a hard black shell, with silvery fur on his belly was trapped between my screen and door last night. I’ve never seen one before. We live in Minnesota and have a garden and 3 dogs. Wondering what it is, and if it’s toxic to pets if eaten by curious and non-discriminating terriers.
Thank you.
Signature: Melanie Bisson

Blister Beetle we believe

Blister Beetle we believe

Dear Melanie,
It is difficult for us to be certain because of the odd camera angle, but we believe this is a Blister Beetle in the family Meloidae, possibly
Lytta aenea, which is pictured on BugGuide.  Many species of Blister Beetles are able to secrete a compound known as cantharidin that may cause blistering in humans.  We have read reports of livestock being poisoned by ingesting Blister Beetles with hay.  According to Pet MD:  “Blister beetles are a type of insect found primarily in the southwest and Midwest regions of the United States. These beetles harbor a very powerful toxin called cantharidin, but, unlike other types of insects, it does not spread this toxin through biting. Adult blister beetles feed on alfalfa flowers and crops, the same crops used for horse and cattle feed, and when the crops are harvested the beetles are often killed in the process, contaminating the crops with their body parts and fluids and causing illness in the horses that eat the contaminated feed.   Blister beetles are extremely toxic when ingested by horses: as few as five to ten beetles may be fatal to a horse.  The cantharidin toxin affects many bodily systems.  It is extremely irritating to the digestive tract and causes blisters and erosions from the lips and tongue all the way through to the lining of the intestines, which causes abdominal pain (colic) and diarrhea.  This toxin also causes damage to the kidneys and the heart.”

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

For Us, Donald Trump is clumsy and deadly, kind of like a Toe-Biter.  They sound stubborn too.  We can well imagine a predatory, aquatic True Bug being used by a young boy to scare a young girl.  That scenario seems somewhat Trumpian.

Close-Up of a Toe-Biter

If The Donald was a Bug:  Close-Up of a Toe-Biter

Hillary Clinton, on the other hand is much more stealth than she is clumsy, and we would not want to cross her as we imagine her wrath would be unflinching.  Hillary reminds us of a Preying Mantis.  She is deliberate and she is stronger than her mate, who can become a meal, losing his head while copulating, and never losing a beat, so that she would have the energy to raise a brood.  A Preying Mantis can turn its head to look behind it.

If Hillary was a Bug: Mantis Eats Hummer.

If Hillary was a Bug: Mantis Eats Hummer.

For Bernie Sanders, we decided to reference the “Feel the Bern” campaign slogan and we selected the Iron Cross Blister Beetle, which could cause folks to feel the burn if it is carelessly handed.  We found a great image from our archives of an Iron Cross Blister Beetle taking a dip in the swimming pool, but Bernie’s campaign is showing no evidence of cooling off as California’s primary approaches.

Iron Cross Blister Beetle: Feel the Bern

Bernie Sanders:  Cooling Off or still Feeling the Burn???

Origin of this Posting:  May 7, 2016
We thought today while working in the yard how we might anthropomorphize some bugs that remind us of the political candidates, and the first thing that came to mind today for Donald Trump, because of a comment from Roxanne we received, is a Toe-Biter.
  According to Roxanne:  “I have never been bitten. they pinch however, with their big front legs. they are also difficult to remove from clothing, as they are velcro-like. Also difficult to remove from hysterical humans, they have landed on. They are terrible flyers.. bombadiers.”

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: unidentified beetle
Location: Alexandria, Virginia
April 19, 2016 6:54 pm
I got several good photos of this attractive beetle today at Huntley Meadows in Alexandria, Virginia. I cannot find it in my reference book, so I was hoping you can help me out. Thanks!
Signature: Seth

Blister Beetle: Lytta aenea

Blister Beetle: Lytta aenea

Dear Seth,
Your Blister Beetle is
Lytta aenea, and because insects have evolved and adapted to maximize their ability to reproduce, many species make yearly appearances when they emerge as adults at the same time across a wide area.  A few days ago, we posted our first image this year of Lytta aenea.

Blister Beetle: Lytta aenea

Blister Beetle: Lytta aenea

Blister Beetle: Lytta aenea

Blister Beetle: Lytta aenea

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Please identify?
Location: Haywood County, NC
April 14, 2016 6:18 am
We have had an ‘outbreak’ of these beetles by our garage door. There are hundreds of them. We had mulch blown in a couple of weeks ago and are trying to determine if they came in that way or if this is just your every day beetle apocalypse.
Signature: Buggy in NC

Blister Beetle

Blister Beetle:  Lytta aenea

Dear Buggy in NC,
This is a Blister Beetle in the family Meloidae, a group with a complicated life cycle.  Larvae are generally predatory and very particular about their hosts, and depending upon the species of Blister Beetle, they generally parasitize solitary bees or grasshoppers.  We have identified your Blister Beetle as
Lytta aenea, based on this BugGuide image.  When conditions are right, there can be large population explosions of adult Blister Beetles that feed on vegetation.  According to BugGuide:  “recorded larval hosts: Colletes thoracicus (Colletidae) adults recorded feeding on Amelanchier, Carya, Crataegus, Fagaceae, Malus, Pirophorum, Prunus, and Salicaceae.”  Blister Beetles should only be handled with caution as they are able to exude a compound, cantharidin, that can cause blistering and irritation in human skin.  

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Many on Pinnacle Peak hiking trail–Scottsdale, AZ
Location: Scottsdale, AZ
April 11, 2016 4:51 pm
Hi Bug People,
Ran into many of these on my hike… What is it?
Signature: Sue

Master Blister Beetle

Master Blister Beetle

What this is Sue, is one of our favorite springtime sightings from Arizona and California, a Master Blister Beetle.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Fascinating Winged Creature
Location: Fall Canyon Trail, Death Valley, Calif.
April 4, 2016 3:41 pm
Yesterday, while hiking the Fall Canyon Trail in Death Valley, my eyes bugged out when I crossed paths with this incredible creature that looked like a giant winged ant scrambling over the gravel in front of me.
A cursory search of “strange insects of Death Valley” and a dive through my usually trusty Laws Field Guide proved fruitless so that is why I am compelled to bother you in hopes you can solve the mystery. For what it’s worth the insect appeared to be approximately two inches long.
Signature: W. Campbell

Master Blister Beetles

Master Blister Beetles

Dear W. Campbell,
Each spring, nature lovers who flock to the deserts of the southwest to see desert wildflowers in bloom send us magnificent images of Master Blister Beetles to identify.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination