Black bug with red stripes and small wings
August 17, 2009
I have been seeing this unidentified bug on my walks for the last 3 or 4 years. They are usually walking across the road. The photos were taken in the evening at sundown. The bugs were climbing up to stay in the sun, and on the rocks they were finally being still enough to take good photos. I have not noticed them eating the vegetation. These bugs are as large as I have seen them, about 1 inch long. They drag their long abdomen leaving a very specific track.
The wings are hard, shiny, and dimpled like orange peel; very beetle like, and useless. The head looks like an ant head, without large pincers. I have more pictures if you want them.
What are they?
Rebecca, Cuba, NM
Cuba, New Mexico

Blister Beetle

Blister Beetle

Hi Rebecca,
This is a Blister Beetle in the genus Megetra, and sadly, it has no common name other than the general family name of Blister Beetle.  According to BugGuide:  “Range  Restricted to Chihuahuan Desert of the USA (TX, NM, and extreme southeastern AZ) and Mexico (where most of this desert region is located).”  In the past, we received a submission from Spain that looks very much like the genus Megetra, and is probably in the same tribe, Eupomphini.  You should use caution if handling a Blister Beetle as they can release a compound cantharidin which is a blistering agent.

Blister Beetles

Location: Cuba, New Mexico

29 Responses to Blister Beetle

  1. Linda Messmer says:

    I was wanting to know if these blister beetles bite humans and what it would look like?
    My husband was in New Mexico this past week and on his arm he has what looks like scratch
    marks. Please respond at the above e-mail address a.s.a.p. I need to know so he can get treatment.
    Thank you!

  2. Shellie Pyle says:

    Blister Beetle sighting in NORTHERN Arizona, Chino Valley, elevation approx. 5,000! We have an overnight appearance of half a dozen in the grasses around our livestock pens. High desert, mid-monsoon season.

  3. Eric Koenig says:

    Saw one of these fellows at the old Fort Wingate Army Depot near Gallup, NM in August

  4. Mike says:

    I saw one near Navajo Dam in Northern N M last weekend which is why I started looking for NM beetles. Cool! It was very dark red with black stripes.

  5. Robin says:

    We have an infestation of these beetles in Moriarty, NM.. 45 miles south of Santa Fe, 40 miles east of Albuquerque. First time in 18 years living here that we have seen them.

  6. Tammy says:

    Just saw a couple of these critter on my walk this morning in Aztec NM.

  7. Kyle says:

    These are NOT blister beetles…they are very common in New Mexico and as a child we used to play with them all the time, they do not bite or blister….they love sucking the juice from green tumbleweeds, and we used to see hundreds of them all over tumbleweeds patches.

  8. Richard street says:

    I have just captured five of the blister Beatles in snowflake Arizona dought they are harmless they have a stinger on their rear end and while meowing the lawn

  9. Eileen W Davis says:

    Just found a beetle at work in pecos, texas. Black ant head and black cone shaped body black with red stripes.

  10. Charlie jo says:

    I live about 60 miles south of Gallup, NM at about 7,400 elevation. These bugs are very common here. I see them all around my yard late spring to early winter.

  11. royanne barringer says:

    I just saw one on the Homestake mil site today

  12. MuddyT says:

    I saw several of these last week at Chaco Canyon and Aztec Ruins

  13. Janice says:

    Found one 15 miles north of Heber AZ. Approximately 5800 ft elevation.

  14. Judy Cousens says:

    These were clustered on weeds in Gallup, NM. In Sept.

  15. James says:

    Found one in my yard in Las Cruces, NM. Beautiful.

  16. May says:

    Saw one at Hubbell Trading Post in Arizona in September 2007 (have a labeled photo) and “more linebacker beetles” somewhere around Chinle, AZ area. Maybe the Chaco Canyon or Taos area too but my notes aren’t clear for that.

  17. B. Gamble says:

    I saw this beetle on my way to canyon de Chelly 40 miles east of Kayenta Arizona on Monday September 3 2018. Moving fast probably in NM by now.

  18. Brianna Marsing says:

    Bluewater Village area, NW NM. I’ve seen these ever since I was a kid, used to play with them and never got blisters or burns from their orange secretions. We call them carrot bugs.

  19. Michelle Carter says:

    My husband found one today in Sanders AZ near the New Mexico border 40 miles away from Gallup NM

  20. Charlotte Conger says:

    Saw some today in Santa Fe NM

  21. Candice says:

    I work at a school in Albuquerque, NM. I have worked there for 8 years and this is the first time I have seen them. I saw 2 this past week. I had to flick one off a little girl’s backpack. The school is butted right up to the Mesa.

  22. Jessie says:

    I live in Taos, NM, and had the black variety of the Red and Black Blister Beetle living in my hair for 3 days. Finally fell out when I washed my hair so got a good look at him then. The beetle apparently fell onto my head when I was cutting back the flower canes in my iris bed. At first I thought I had mosquito bites on my neck by rear hairline….had the same reaction. Woke up the next morning with A LOT MORE bits on face, around back of hairline, in inside corner of eye, and in scalp. By this time, I didn’t know what bit me but they were painful plus my eye was sealed shut. As I slept that night, awoke to more bites plus outside corner of other eye. It was when I washed my hair that day that the culprit fell out. Spent another 5 weeks trying to identify the beetle. In the meantime I had 44 bites on head — 22 being on face — all left goodly large sores. Thank goodness for pancake makeup but eyes were the worse. Have apptmt with eye doctor soon since still have problems with eyes but took almost 3 months for sores to heal. Very nasty bug. Will have to look for it in my bearded irises come spring.

  23. Lyn says:

    I saw many blister beetles when I lived in Chino Valley AZ.

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