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

Subject: Beetle pictured near Amboseli, Kenya
Location: Amboseli, Kenya
July 13, 2016 7:32 am
Hi there,
I was recently in Kenya and captured a few pictures of an interesting bug but none of the people there knew the name of it, nor do I know what plant it was eating (a rather lovely purple flower)
It was captured in July 2016, so Kenyan winter.
Can you please help identify it for my picture collection.
Signature: Tane Piper

Blister Beetle: Mylabris oculata

Blister Beetle: Mylabris oculata

Dear Tane,
This is one beautiful Blister Beetle in the family Meloidae and the colors on your image, the bold black and white beetle, the orange antennae and the ultraviolet purple blossom are stunning.  We quickly identified a similar looking Blister Beetle on the Kenya Natural History Guide that is identified as being in the genus
Mylabris.  The site states:  “Many blister beetles are so toxic to mammals that ingestion of a few may be enough to kill a horse. It happens occasionally when the beetles get wrapped up into a bale of hay, quite by accident. Birds somehow just know that a beetle with this pattern should never be eaten, and they leave them alone. There are many, many species of Mylabris distributed across Africa, Europe and Asia.”  Once we had a genus name, we identified the species on Beetles of Africa and confirmed the identification on iSpot.

Blister Beetle: Mylabris oculata

Blister Beetle: Mylabris oculata

Thank you! Yes I thought it was a rather stunning beetle.
– Tane

Blister Beetle: Mylabris oculata

Blister Beetle: Mylabris oculata

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Type of blister beetle??
Location: Central New Mexico
June 13, 2016 8:07 pm
Hello! We have suddenly noticed thousands of these small beetle type creatures in and around our barn during mid June. We live in Stanley, New Mexico, which is about 50 miles east of Albuquerque and about 45 miles south of Santa Fe. A friend told me they are blister beetles which I know can be very dangerous for horses. I’m hoping she is incorrect and that you can reassure me they are harmless little beings 😊. They seem to be everywhere. Thanks!!
Signature: Kristy

Spotted Blister Beetle

Spotted Blister Beetle

Dear Kristy,
This is indeed a Spotted Blister Beetle,
Epicauta pardalis, based on images posted to Alexander Wild Photography and to BugGuide.  According to PetMD:  “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.”  It is our understanding that problems occur when Blister Beetles are feeding on alfalfa that is harvested to provide feed, and not from horses eating Blister Beetles that might be found near stables.  This is a new species of Blister Beetle for our site.

Spotted Blister Beetle

Spotted Blister Beetle

Thanks so much for the info Daniel!
Kristy

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Black insect with red head
Location: Penang, Malaysia
June 5, 2016 5:22 am
I came across this bug when I was collecting bugs for a school project at a forest trail near a dam. This insect is black with a red head and has long-ish antennas and legs. Its legs and antennas look sectioned, like bamboo. It can fly and bite(has wings and pinchers). I fed it some fruit peel and cooked rice and it seems to be eating the rice. Please help me identify the insect.
Signature: Desperate student

Blister Beetle

Red Headed Blister Beetle

Dear Desperate Student,
We immediately recognized your insect as a Blister Beetle in the family Meloidae, and upon searching for the family in Malaysia, we found images of your species on FlickR, but they are not identified to the species level.  We believe we have successfully identified it as
Epicauta hirticornis thanks to an image of a mating pair on Sinobug.  According to Farangs Gone Wild, it is commonly called the Red Headed Blister Beetle.  Blister Beetles should be handled with extreme caution as they can secrete a compound cantharidin that may cause blistering in human skin.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Manzanar bug
Location: Manzanar, CA
May 31, 2016 10:54 am
Can you please let me know what this is?
Signature: Jen

Iron Cross Blister Beetle

Iron Cross Blister Beetle

Dear Jen,
This is one of our favorite last spring sightings from California and Arizona, the Iron Cross Blister Beetle.  Blister Beetles in the family Meloidae should be handled with caution as they are able to exude a compound known as cantharidin that may cause blistering in human skin.

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.”

Comment from a reader
Candidate bugs
June 7, 2016 6:00 am
Loved, loved loved the Candidate comparison. And spot on. Would love to see the rest of the Republican field (pre-primaries).
Signature: Steve

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination