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Blister Beetle (Lytta aenea)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Blister Beetle

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Touching a Blister Beetle can leave its handler with a swollen, painful reminder that some insects are better objects for observation.

Updated: 01/02/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Blister Beetles are members of the family Melodiae. If squeezed, they eject a chemical toxin called cantharidin that is a skin irritant to humans. Tissue that comes into contact with this irritant swells into a painful blister. This substance's effectiveness at destroying skin tissue is proven by its use as an ingredient in some wart removal products. It is primarily used as a defense mechanism against predators, but the beetle will use it even when under a perceived threat.

This species of Blister Beetle has a black body and bright red legs. Its 'knee caps' and 'feet' are black. The head is slightly larger than the prothorax (shoulders), but the abdomen is the largest and longest part of the body. Segmented antennae are relatively short and ridged. Black wing coverings fold over delicate wings and look almost like armor plates.

Adult Blister Beetles can be found on apple trees and other similar plants. The larvae are parasites to solitary bees like the Augochlora Sweat Bee. Larvae jump onto a passing bee, stowaway to the bee's lair, and then feed on bee eggs and bee larvae inside. After the Blister Beetle pupates, it makes its way out of the lair.©InsectIdentification.org

Known Diet of the Blister-Beetle

flowers and leaves
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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Harmful insect icon

Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Coleoptera
        Family: Meloidae
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          Genus: Lytta
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            Species: aenea

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Lytta aenea
Category: Beetle
Size (Adult; Length): 9mm to 15mm (0.35" to 0.59")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black; red; brown
Descriptors: legs; knees; harmful; secretions; painful

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 9mm (0.4in) and 15mm (0.6in)
Lo: 9mm
Md: 12mm
Hi: 15mm

Territorial Map*

U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Blister Beetle may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Blister Beetle. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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