Subject: Black and yellow bug
Geographic location of the bug: NE Oklahoma
Time: 08:09 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Hey bugman-
Tgaese are invading myhome. They are everywhere – walls, ceilings counter tops and even floor. It hasn’t bitten or stung any one. . . Yet.
How you want your letter signed: Cyndiluwho
This is a Striped Blister Beetle, Epicauta vittata, and according to BugGuide: “Feeds on variety of plants, especially Solanaceae (e.g., potatoes, tomatoes), also soybeans, other crops. Pigweed, Amaranthus species, not a crop plant, is also fed upon extensively.” This is an outdoor species that occasionally enters homes accidentally, so we don’t know why you are finding so many indoors. According to Featured Creatures: “The adults are most active during the morning and late afternoon, seeking shelter from the sun at mid-day. In particularly hot, arid climates they remain inactive during the day, confining their activity to the evening hours.” That site also notes: “Striped blister beetle is one of the most damaging of the blister beetles to vegetable crops in areas where it occurs. This is due to its feeding preferences, which include several common crops and greater preference for foliage than some other species; its propensity to feed on fruits of solanaceous plants; its relatively large size and voracious appetite; its strong tendency to aggregate into large mating and feeding swarms; and its high degree of dispersiveness, which can result in sudden appearance of large swarms of beetles. … The damage caused by Epicauta spp. blister beetles is offset, at least during periods of relatively low beetle density, by the predatory behavior of blister beetle larvae. Epicauta spp. larvae feed on the eggs of grasshoppers, including many crop-damaging Melanoplus spp. During periods of grasshopper abundance the number of blister beetles tends to increase substantially.” Blister Beetles should be handled with caution since some species are capable of secreting a compound, cantharidin, that is known to cause blistering in sensitive individuals. We have selected your submission as our Bug of the Month for September 2018.