Spanish fly

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Spanish fly:

see blister beetleblister beetle,
common name for certain soft-bodied, usually black or brown, mostly elongate and cylindrical beetles belonging to the family Meloidae. Blister beetles are common insects found feeding on the flowers and foliage of various plants. Occasionally some, e.g.
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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Spanish Fly


(Lytta vesicatoria), a beetle of the family Meloidae (seeMELOIDAE). The body length is 12–20 mm. The coloration is golden green. The Spanish fly is distributed in Europe and Asia. It flies on hot days in May through July; it emits a sharp, unpleasant odor. It eats the leaves of trees and shrubs, and in large numbers causes considerable damage. It deposits its eggs in the ground; the hatched larvae crawl onto flowers, from where wild bees transport them on their bodies to their own nests. The larvae eat the bees’ eggs and the honey in the honeycomb cells, then leave the nests and metamorphose into pseudopupae, which winter in the ground.

The hemolymph and sexual organs of Spanish flies contain a toxic substance called cantharidin. Dried Spanish flies were used to prepare vesicatory plasters.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Spanish fly

preparation made of green blister beetles and used to incite cattle to mate. [Insect Symbolism: EB, IX: 399]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Spanish fly

1. a European blister beetle, Lytta vesicatoria (family Meloidae), the dried bodies of which yield the pharmaceutical product cantharides
2. another name for cantharides
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Homais l'utilise dans le but d'etaler son erudition en citant <<pele-mele les cantharides, l'upas, le mancenillier, la vipere.>> Homais est <<partisan du progres>> et Flaubert s'en moque comme il se moquera plus tard de cette volonte de savoir de Bouvard et Pecuchet.
The most extraordinary fact to emerge was that the girls had been poisoned by cantharides, or Spanish Fly.
Although there is a very handy cast of characters at the beginning of the book, an equally helpful list, for example, would have been a glossary of alchemic or technical poisoning terms--for example, the term "cantharides" is mentioned with frequency, but never defined (it was known as "Spanish fly," a legendary aphrodisiac, but also very toxic).