Blister Beetle and opportunistic Fire Colored Beetles

blister beetle (lytta aenea) beseiged by smaller beetles (pedilus terminalus?)
Fri, Apr 24, 2009 at 7:07 AM
Hey bugman, I was walking through the woods here at Maryville College in Maryville, Tennessee and I came upon this blister beetle (id’d courtesy of Eric Eaton and y belov on bugguide) being beseiged by the smaller beetles. According to Eric, the smaller beetles are after the cantharidin that the blister beetle secretes as a defense mechanism. I had never seen this before. Eric said that though this behavior was not unheard of, it was not observed very often. I though i would share a picture with you. I hope you enjoy it. Thanks so much for an amazing website!
Thanks, Michael Davis
Maryville, Tennessee

Blister Beetle and cantharidin hungry Fire Colored Beetles
Blister Beetle and cantharidin hungry Fire Colored Beetles

Hi Michael,
Thanks so much for providing our site with your wonderful documentation of a Blister Beetle and the opportunistic Fire Colored Beetles.  According to Jim McClarin on  BugGuide:  “Male pyrochroid beetles seek out blister beetles, climb onto them and lick off the cantharidin the blister beetles exude. Not only have these beetles developed a resistance to the cantharidin, they use the blistering agent to impress a female of their own species who then mates with them, whereupon most of the cantharidin is transfered to the female in the form of a sperm packet. The eggs the female subsequently lays are coated with cantharidin to protect them from being eaten before they hatch.”  If we ever did something crazy like trying to pursue a degree in Entomology, we believe we would specialize in the family Meloidae as we are constantly fascinated by Blister Beetles and their amazing diversity and complex life cycles.

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