Subject: Beetle ID
Location: Hurricane Rd pass, Temblor Range, east of Carrizo Plains, CA
March 29, 2016 7:46 pm
I found this beetle on March 26, 2016 at the top of Hurricane Rd pass in the Temblor Range just East of Carrizo Plains National Monument. It is large – see my fingers for scale. It was the only one of its kind I saw that day and we walked the roadside for over 1.5 miles. The elytra are short and do not come close to covering it’s abdomen, as you can see in the second picture. It did not fly, but fell off my fingers and into the grass. It was found in Bromus grass and Amsinkia. Temperature was about 65 degrees F with a strong wind, ample sunshine.
Signature: Judy Neuhauser
This is a Blister Beetle in the genus Lytta, and we wish you included a view of the beetle’s head because it does not look like the Master Blister Beetle, Lytta magister, a species that is active in Southern California at this time of year, as evidenced by the image we just posted, however the Master Blister Beetle has an orange head and thorax and your individual appears to have a black head. Also classified in the L. magister group according to BugGuide is Lytta funerea, which is represented by a single posting of a male of the species on BugGuide with three images. That individual has a black head and orange markings on the abdomen like your individual, and females, which we suspect you encountered, are often bigger with bigger abdomens. We would urge you to exercise caution when handling Blister Beetles because according to BugGuide: “Pressing, rubbing, or squashing blister beetles may cause them to exude hemolymph which contains the blistering compound cantharidin. Ingestion of blister beetles can be fatal. Eating blister beetles with hay may kill livestock. Cantharidin is commercially known as Spanish Fly” and is sold as an aphrodesiac.