I was urinated on by a type of beetle.
March 27, 2010
I recently returned from a three month stay in Panama, where just a few days before my departure, I was peed on in my sleep by a type of beetle that the locals called “chinea” (sp?). The urine left a large purplish-black blister on my arm, that with the help of hydro-cortisone cream, has been steadily healing. A biologist friend of mine consulted a Panamanian doctor friend and concluded that the beetle is of the stinking variety. Any more specific info? I’d love to be able to really get to know the bug that has left me, if only a little, emotionally and physically scarred! 🙂
Muchos gracias y adios! Katie
Santa Catalina, Veraguas Province, Panama
First we need to come clean and admit that our response is total speculation based on circumstantial evidence. Since there is no actual photo of the culprit, nothing is certain. With that stated, there is a genus of Rove Beetles, Paederus, that has a worldwide distribution. In Africa, this beetle is called a Creechie or Acid Bug. We have posted letters with African species several times in the past, including January 2008 and again in May 2008. We found an online posting on the US National Library of Medicine website that indicates “Epidemic outbreak of dermatitis caused by Paederus signaticornis Sharp (Coleoptera: staphylinidae) observed in José Domingo de Obaldía Hospital, David, Panama” in January 1982, so the genus is found in Panama. The Medical and Veterinary Entomology website has information, including: “Rove beetles in the genus Paederus contain pederin (C25H45O9N), a toxin more potent than that of Latrodectus [Black Widow] spider venom, and the most complex nonproteinaceous insect defensive secretion known. Pederin is synthesized by endosymbiotic gram-negative bacteria (Pseudomonas species) occurring in female Paederus species. The beetles, which are mostly 7 to 13 mm long, are found in North, Central, and South America; Europe; Africa; Asia; and Australasia. Unlike most rove beetles that are dull-colored, many Paederus species have an orange pronotum and orange basal segments of the abdomen, which contrast sharply with the often blue or green metallic elytra and brown or black coloration of the rest of the body. This color pattern may be a form of warning (aposematic) coloration, but a defensive function for pederin has not been demonstrated. … Species in South American countries are known by various names, such as bicho de fuego, pito, potó, podó, and trepa-moleque.”
Thanks for the info! If when I return to Panama am able to get a photograph/more info, I will surely send you an update!