Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Wikipedia.
(blister beetles), a family of beetles. The brightly colored body is from 0.5 to 5 cm long. The elytra are sometimes shortened. The blood contains the poisonous substance cantaridin. The beetles secrete acrid droplets of blood through openings in the leg joints as a protective reaction. The fluid causes human skin to blister. The larvae parasitize beehives, the nests of other Hymenoptera, and the egg pods of locusts; they undergo hyper-metamorphosis.
There are about 2, 500 species of blister beetles, distributed primarily in the tropics and subtropics. Approximately 200 species are found in the USSR; these primarily include representatives of the genera Meloë, Mylabris, Epicauta, and Lytta. The mature beetles feed on plants, thus damaging agricultural crops and tree and shrub plantings. Those Meloidae that destroy locust eggs—for example, Epicauta erythrocephala—are beneficial as parasites of the locust