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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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.

Spanish fly

preparation made of green blister beetles and used to incite cattle to mate. [Insect Symbolism: EB, IX: 399]

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
References in periodicals archive ?
His legs were also blistered with plasters of cantharides and mustard to draw the humours out through his feet; his forehead was bled with lee ches; he was purged with strong emetics; and his room was kept so cold none of his staff would stay with him.
Hollenkemp, an 1852 case, the court let stand a punitive damages award against a local drug store where the store's agent had accidentally mixed cantharides in the plaintiff's medicine, making him ill.
Cantharides, or powdered Spanish Fly (a kind of beetle), powdered bluebottles and groundsel were regarded as love philtres but were far from safe.