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Striped Blister Beetle (Epicauta vittata)

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

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The seemingly harmless Striped Blister Beetle has a secret chemical weapon that it uses on bugs and people alike.

Updated: 08/30/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
When threatened, this yellow and black blister beetle secretes an acidic yellowish fluid onto its legs. Predators and people that touch this caustic fluid are burned by it. People may immediately see blisters form in the area of contact. The Striped Blister Beetle has a yellow head. The wing coverings are yellow with two black stripes on them. Closely related beetles look similar, but have a different number of black stripes. Adults eat potatoes, tomatoes, and other garden plants, making them a potential pest to backyard gardeners. Many of them may inhabit the same plant. Their habitat includes gardens, parks and farm fields.

Beetle larvae feed on buried grasshopper eggs and spend winter underground. Their diet keeps crop-destroying grasshopper populations in check, making them beneficial insects to have around to farmers and backyard gardeners, if direct contact can be avoided.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Burning icon
Flying insect icon
Striped or banded insect icon

Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Coleoptera
        Family: Meloidae
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          Genus: Epicauta
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            Species: vittata

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Epicauta vittata
Category: Beetle
Size (Adult; Length): 9mm to 15mm (0.35" to 0.59")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black; yellow; orange; red
Descriptors: stripes; flying; painful; burning

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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Canadian territory of Alberta graphic
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Canadian territory of New Brunswick graphic
Canadian territory of Newfoundland and Labrador graphic
Canadian territory of Ontario graphic
Canadian territory of Quebec graphic
Canadian territory of Saskatchewan graphic
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 Striped 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 Striped Blister Beetle. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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