Spotted Blister Beetle

Subject: Type of blister beetle??
Location: Central New Mexico
June 13, 2016 8:07 pm
Hello! We have suddenly noticed thousands of these small beetle type creatures in and around our barn during mid June. We live in Stanley, New Mexico, which is about 50 miles east of Albuquerque and about 45 miles south of Santa Fe. A friend told me they are blister beetles which I know can be very dangerous for horses. I’m hoping she is incorrect and that you can reassure me they are harmless little beings ?. They seem to be everywhere. Thanks!!
Signature: Kristy

Spotted Blister Beetle
Spotted Blister Beetle

Dear Kristy,
This is indeed a Spotted Blister Beetle,
Epicauta pardalis, based on images posted to Alexander Wild Photography and to BugGuide.  According to PetMD:  “Blister beetles are extremely toxic when ingested by horses: as few as five to ten beetles may be fatal to a horse.  The cantharidin toxin affects many bodily systems.  It is extremely irritating to the digestive tract and causes blisters and erosions from the lips and tongue all the way through to the lining of the intestines, which causes abdominal pain (colic) and diarrhea.  This toxin also causes damage to the kidneys and the heart.”  It is our understanding that problems occur when Blister Beetles are feeding on alfalfa that is harvested to provide feed, and not from horses eating Blister Beetles that might be found near stables.  This is a new species of Blister Beetle for our site.

Spotted Blister Beetle
Spotted Blister Beetle

Thanks so much for the info Daniel!
Kristy

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