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Iron Cross Blister Beetle (Tegrodera aloga)

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

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Image Credit: Juan Ram?rez from Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico
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Image Credit: Craig from Tucson, AZ
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Image Credit: Jaye B. from Bishop, CA
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Native to the Sonoran desert, the Iron Cross Blister Beetle is dangerous to touch and poisonous to eat, making it hazardous to people, pets and livestock.

Updated: 01/04/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Having body colors akin to a wasp, the bright yellow network of veins covering black elytra act as warning colors. With a bright, red head, the Iron Cross Blister Beetle gives off a bonafide visual alarm. A toxic chemical called cantharidin is secreted from the legs and antennae of an Iron Cross Beetle when handled or touched, which causes painful blisters on human skin as well as on animals. If eaten in enough quantities, it can kill. While most people would refrain from eating beetles, this insect is sometimes unwittingly consumed by horses and livestock feeding on the plants where the beetle is eating, causing death. Pets may also try to eat them. This same chemical has been used medicinally to kill and remove warts, so in a clinical sense, it is helpful to people, too.

A black cross is visible on the wings thanks to a separation of the yellow color on the wings at the midline as well as at the center of the elytra. This species eats native wildflowers and herbs as well as the leaves of crop plants like alfalfa, potatoes, beans, and clover. This agricultural diet increases the likelihood of a human encounter in the field. Adults are active in the day, and sometimes at night, and it is usually seen meandering on the ground or feeding on a plant, many times with others.

If seen, avoid contact with the Iron Cross Beetle and keep a wary eye for others that may be nearby.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
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Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Coleoptera
        Family: Meloidae
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          Genus: Tegrodera
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            Species: aloga

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Tegrodera aloga
Category: Beetle
Size (Adult; Length): 14mm to 26mm (0.55" to 1.02")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black; orange; yellow; red
Descriptors: nerves; veins; lace; wings; head; blister; pain; dangerous; poisonous; harmful; flying

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 14mm (0.6in) and 26mm (1.0in)
Lo: 14mm
Md: 20mm
Hi: 26mm

Territorial Map*

U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Iron Cross 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 Iron Cross Blister Beetle. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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