Blister Beetle

By William T. Hathaway

Blister Beetle

A few years ago in early May our hiking crew called my attention to what they considered an amazing situation: there were hundreds of beetles climbing on short grassy stems scattered throughout a major portion of a nearby field. Most of the beetles were about 8-10 mm in length and dark in color. Close examination revealed a larger species widely spaced among the majority of smaller beetles. Here was the Short-winged Blister Beetle (Meloe angusticollis) also known as the “Oil Beetle” — probably named for its iridescent, reflective colors. The larval stage of this beetle is parasitic on wild bees; they ride bees to bee nests and cause damage. It is generally known that droplets of liquid ooze from the leg joint of this beetle, causing blisters on human skin.


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