Iron Cross Blister Beetles from Baja California, Mexico

Subject: What is this insect-Baja California
Location: 8 miles north of town of San Felipe, Baja California, Mexico
March 27, 2013 3:25 pm
We just visited our property in San Felipe, Baja California, Mexico and their were swarms of these bugs all over our property. They didn’t seem harmful. They were snacking on any new green foliage in the desert. I’ve been going down there for several years and have never seen these. They are quite large, maybe an inch and one-half long. Golden wings. Their were some on their own, but mostly on the ground in clusters. I suppose that had to do with the vegetation they were eating. I moved some around and they didn’t try to sting or bite.
Signature: Baja Barb

Iron Cross Blister Beetles
Iron Cross Blister Beetles

Dear Baja Barb,
These are Iron Cross Blister Beetles in the genus
Tegrodera.  There are several species in the genus and we have difficulty distinguishing one from the other.  According to BugGuide:  “species closely related, separable by minor but consistent differences of adult anatomy.”  BugGuide also notes that:  “each sp. associated with different plant communities” and “Eriastrum is an important food source for all adults.”  All Blister Beetles should be handled with care as they are able to secrete a compound known as cantharidin that can cause skin to blister.

Iron Cross Blister Beetle
Iron Cross Blister Beetle

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