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Oil Beetle (Meloe spp)

Detailing the identifying qualities of the Oil Beetle, including physical features and territorial reach.

 Updated: 1/16/2017; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©

  Oil Beetle  
Picture of Oil-Beetle
Picture of Oil-Beetle Picture of Oil-Beetle

An Oil Beetle may seem like an ordinary black garden bug but it has a secret weapon making it capable of blistering human skin.

Oil Beetles are a type of Blister Beetle. This group of beetles can secrete a caustic chemical called cantharidin from their abdomen. The toxicity of this chemical is great enough to irritate human skin and cause the formation of painful blisters. It is typically used whenever the beetle feels threatened or mishandled. This is a species best looked at, but not touched.

Like other Blister Beetles, it is fond of flowers and may drink nectar as well as plant juices. It can be found on blossoms, tree trunks or stems, and in grass.

Picture of the Oil Beetle
Picture of the Oil Beetle

Oil Beetle Information

Category: Beetle
Common Name: Oil Beetle
Scientific Name: Meloe spp

Taxonomy Hierarchy

 Arrow graphic Kingdom: Animalia
  Arrow graphic Phylum: Arthropoda
   Arrow graphic Class: Insecta
    Arrow graphic Order: Coleoptera
     Arrow graphic Family: Meloidae
      Arrow graphic Genus: Meloe
       Arrow graphic Species: spp

Size, Identifying Tags and Territorial Reach

Size (Adult, Length): Size (Adult, Length): 6 mm to 16 mm (0.234 inches to 0.624 inches)
Identifying Colors: black
Additional Descriptors: flying, blisters, shiny, soft

North American Territorial Reach (Though Not Limited To): Alabama; Alaska; Arizona; Arkansas; California; Colorado; Connecticut; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Hawaii; Idaho; Illinois; Indiana; Iowa; Kansas; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Minnesota; Mississippi; Missouri; Montana; Nebraska; Nevada; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New Mexico; New York; North Carolina; North Dakota; Ohio; Oklahoma; Oregon; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Carolina; South Dakota; Tennessee; Texas; Utah; Vermont; Virginia; Washington; West Virginia; Wisconsin; Wyoming; Alberta; British Columbia; Manitoba; New Brunswick; Newfoundland and Labrador; Nova Scotia; Ontario; Prince Edward Island; Quebec; Saskatchewan; Mexico

A Note About Territorial Reach: Keep in mind that an insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above. Insects are driven by environmental factors, food supplies and mating patterns and do not nescessarily work within hard-and-fast territorial lines like we humans do.

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