Red Ant-like bug with yellow wings?
April 25, 2010
Hi! My husband and I were out to lunch and when I got out of the car I saw this bug. It was crawling on the pavement around the tire of my car. It was pretty fast and it kept moving around the tire. It looks almost like a large red ant with yellow wings. We live in Arizona, it is April and about 80 degrees. We have never seen anything like it. It is about an inch long and we did not see it fly. I am just dying to find out what it is and anything about it!? Thank you!
Dear Very Curious,
You encountered an Iron Cross Blister Beetle in the genus Tegrodera. BugGuide reports them from California and Arizona and indicates that they are found: “In the lower Sonoran desert, T. algoa feeds on spring blossoms of Nama hispidum and Eriastrum.“More information on the entire family Meloidae, the Blister Beetle family, can be found on the info page on BugGuide which indicates: “Life cycle is hypermetamorphic. Larvae are parasitoids. Hosts include bees of families Megachilidae and Andrenidae. Epicauta (and other genera) larvae prey on eggs of grasshoppers. Eggs are laid in batches in soil near nests of hosts, sometimes in nest of bee host, or on stems, foliage, or flowers. Larvae undergo hypermetamorphosis–first instar larvae (usually called triungulins) are active, have well-developed legs and antennae. These typically search for hosts. Later instars tend to have reduced legs and be less active, having found hosts. There is a coarctate (pseudopupal) stage, which is usually how the larvae overwinter. Life cycle may be as short as 30 days, or as long as three years. It is typically one year, corresponding to that of host.” Other remarks include: “Pressing, rubbing, or squashing adult blister beetles may cause them to exude their hemolymph (“blood”), which contains cantharidin. This compound causes blistering of the skin, thus the name blister beetle. Accidental or intentional ingestion of these insects can be fatal. There are documented incidents of horses dying after eating hay in which blister beetles were inadvertently baled with the forage. Watch that curious children do not attempt to put these beetles in their mouths. The external use of cantharidin, commercially known as “Spanish fly,” the supposed aphrodisiac, is likewise discouraged.“