Blister Beetles from Namibia

Location: Namibia, Southern Africa
November 20, 2011 2:39 pm
Can you please identify these beetles. Images 1 & 2 were taken around 9a.m. on 13th April 2010. in the gardens of Nunda Lodge near Divundu, in the Caprivi Strip, Namibia. The beetles were very abundant and we saw them again when we returned in April 2011.
Signature: Roger Pinkney

Unknown Blister Beetles from Namibia

Hi Roger,
These colorful creatures are Blister Beetles in the family Meloidae.  The larvae often feed on Grasshopper Eggs or they parasitize the nests of Solitary Bees.  Adults feed on vegetation.  They have a complicated life cycle.  Blister Beetles get their common name because they exude a substance called cantharidin that can cause blistering of skin, so they should be handled with care.  We need to leave to get to Whole Foods to buy some cheese for Thanksgiving dinner, but we will try to find a species identification upon our return.

Blister Beetles

While your individuals look very similar to this unidentified species from Namibia the distinctive red markings evident in your photo are absent.

Dear Daniel, Many thanks for another swift identification. Glad we didn’t touch these beetles. Enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner. Kind regards, Roger.

Hi Daniel and Roger:
Your Blister Beetles probably belong to the genus Mylabris (Meloidae: Meloinae). It’s a very large genus (apparently over 200 species) so as usual I can’t be certain, but it looks very much like M. tricolor. The species probably occurs throughout Southern Africa as I also found references to it from Angola and Botswana, as well as images from Zambia, Mozambique and South Africa. None of these images look exactly the same as those in the submitted photos but all are very similar. Variability in appearance is quite common within insect species, particularly if the species has a wide distribution, so that may account for the small differences. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any additional information about the species. Regards.  Karl


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