Ash-Gray Blister Beetle ----->
<----- Striped Blister
The Blister Beetle can take care
any of you have made the mistake of handling one of these
beauties you may have gotten a rather rude surprise
-- painful blisters.
I made the mistake of brushing
one off my neck one evening when it had gotten its bearings all
wrong and assumed I was a nice tall plant for resting. It left a
water blister that was painful for days. These guys mean
business! This is a defense mechanism the military would be
In Missouri the two most common
are the Striped Blister Beetle and the Ash-gray
Blister Beetle. They are both in the family Meloidae in the
The ash-gray blister beetle is dark
to light ashy gray in color. The Striped Blister Beetle is Black
and yellow in color, normally with 2 black spots on the head.
and two black stripes on the thorax. Each elytra (Hard front
wing of most beetles ) has two to three black stripes. The
blister beetle adult is distinguished by the long cylindrical
soft body, with the tip of the abdomen extending beyond the end
of the wing covers, they also have chewing mouthparts, and a
thorax (neck) narrower than both the head and the abdomen. They
range in size from 1/4 inch to 1 3/4 inches.
Their range covers most of the United
States and they are considered common. They typically feed on
garden plants. And many of you may have noticed them feeding on
garden vegetables an grasses as well as on
ornamental plants like Hostas.
The substance that is excreted from
these beetles come from a chemical cocktail comparable to
cyanide and strychnine in toxicity. It leaves their body in a
"blood" that is released from their legs when disturbed. This
toxin is called Cantharidin. Horses
are especially susceptible to the chemical these beetles
release. It is estimated that 80 of these beetles (even dead)
could kill a horse weighing 900 lbs.
unusual and toxic creatures serve us well.
The female deposits her eggs in the
soil. Then these hatch, the larva feed on grasshopper egg
pods. So you see, without these little bombshells we
would be overrun with grasshoppers! So I encourage when you see
these interesting and beautiful insects look but don't touch!
(Story and photos by Shelly Cox, FOLNC