Subject: Striped Blister Bug or something else?
Location: Greenleaf, WI
July 4, 2012 12:42 pm
Seems each year my garden shows me a new bug. Last year was the invastion of squash bugs, this year the attached mystery bug, photo taken today, July 4th. Doing some searching, I’m thinking it may be a striped blister bug, but not sure. Similar images I’ve found don’t include Wisconsin as their zone, so that’s what makes me unsure of the identification. Seems to be eating my potato plants, but if it is a blister bug, I don’t know how much I want to handle them to attempt to pick them off like I usually handle potato bugs. Otherwise, what might help discourage their presence?
Signature: J Schmidt
Dear J Schmidt,
First we want to commend you on identifying your Striped Blister Beetles, Epicauta vittata, but we would like to point out that they are beetles, not true bugs. You can read more about them on BugGuide, which lists an alternate common name, Old-Fashioned Potato Bug, which supports your observation that they are eating your potato plant leaves. Also it is worth noting that BugGuide has reports from Wisconsin. In the lower left corner of your photo is a grasshopper, and grasshoppers feed on leaves as well. Many Blister Beetles feed on the eggs of grasshoppers as larvae, so Blister Beetles help keep the grasshopper population in check. You might have a bigger problem if you eliminate the Striped Blister Beetles.