Subject: Large Orange and Black Honduras Bug
Location: Comayagua, Honduras
September 20, 2013 3:43 pm
I’ve got a weird one for you.
It’s what looks like a 3 inch long orange and black ant. And it has terrifyingly huge pincers on it.
I’m in the Air Force, right now stationed in Honduras. I found this creature on a tree near where I’m living. I have no idea what it is. If you have an idea, please let me know.
Signature: Ryan Cwynar
We immediately recognized this impressive insect as a Blister Beetle in the genus Cissites, most likely Cissites auriculata, which ranges from “w. & so. TX / Mex. to Costa Rica / W. Indies” according to BugGuide. The larvae are parasitic on Carpenter Bees and BugGuide also notes: “found in the US only recently” which might be related to global warming.
Just did some searching. They EAT bees, and secrete a blister agent.
That’s a scary bug. There’s a photo on your sit of someone handling
one. So they only secrete the stuff if they’re startled?
Hi again Ryan,
We cannot say for certain what the individual characteristics of the Big Eared Blister Beetle, as your species is sometimes commonly called, but we can direct you to University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) website where it states:”The family Meloidae, the blister beetles, contains about 2500 species, divided among 120 genera and four subfamilies (Bologna and Pinto 2001). Florida has 26 species, only a small fraction of the total number in the U.S., but nearly three times that in the West Indies (Selander and Bouseman 1960). Adult beetles are phytophagous, feeding especially on plants in the families Amaranthaceae, Compositae, Leguminosae, and Solanaceae. Most adults eat only floral parts, but some, particularly those of Epicauta spp., eat leaves as well.” Regarding the secretion of Cantharadin, the blistering compound, the site provides this information generally on the family: “Blister beetles receive their common name from the ability of their hemolymph to produce blistering on contact with human skin. Hemolymph is often exuded copiously by reflexive bleeding when an adult beetle is pressed or rubbed. Blisters commonly occur on the neck and arms, as the result of exposure to adult beetles attracted to outdoor lights at night. General handling of adults seldom results in blistering unless the hemolymph contacts the relatively thin skin between the fingers. Unless extensive, medical treatment beyond first aid for blistering on humans is probably not necessary.”