Blister Beetle

Subject: Please identify?
Location: Haywood County, NC
April 14, 2016 6:18 am
We have had an ‘outbreak’ of these beetles by our garage door. There are hundreds of them. We had mulch blown in a couple of weeks ago and are trying to determine if they came in that way or if this is just your every day beetle apocalypse.
Signature: Buggy in NC

Blister Beetle
Blister Beetle:  Lytta aenea

Dear Buggy in NC,
This is a Blister Beetle in the family Meloidae, a group with a complicated life cycle.  Larvae are generally predatory and very particular about their hosts, and depending upon the species of Blister Beetle, they generally parasitize solitary bees or grasshoppers.  We have identified your Blister Beetle as
Lytta aenea, based on this BugGuide image.  When conditions are right, there can be large population explosions of adult Blister Beetles that feed on vegetation.  According to BugGuide:  “recorded larval hosts: Colletes thoracicus (Colletidae) adults recorded feeding on Amelanchier, Carya, Crataegus, Fagaceae, Malus, Pirophorum, Prunus, and Salicaceae.”  Blister Beetles should only be handled with caution as they are able to exude a compound, cantharidin, that can cause blistering and irritation in human skin.  

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