blister beetle

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blister beetle

blister 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., potato beetles, become serious defoliating pests of potatoes, tomatoes, beets, asters, and other crops and flowers. The larvae are predacious or parasitic, feeding on the eggs of grasshoppers and of bees. Blister beetles undergo hypermetamorphosis, a complex life cycle with several different larval forms. The first of the six larval stages, called a triungulin, is a minute, active, and long-legged form that seeks out the host's nest; the following stages are grublike. Adults emerge in midsummer. One group of blister beetles has body fluids that contain cantharadin, a substance that can cause the skin to blister, from which the family gets its name. The Spanish fly (Lytta vesicatoria), a bright green or bluish blister beetle, is a common S European species from which cantharides are extracted and commercially prepared by crushing the wing covers (elytra) of the adults. This quite poisonous chemical is used medicinally as a skin irritant (in plasters), a diuretic, and an aphrodisiac. The lethal dosage for man is about .03 grams. Another group of meloid beetles has no cantharadin and is sometimes called the oil beetles because of the oily substance they secrete as protection against predators. Blister and oil beetles may be brushed into pans of kerosene or killed with systemic poisons or contact insecticides. Blister beetles are classified in the phylum Arthropoda, class Insecta, order Coleoptera, family Meloidae.
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References in periodicals archive ?
A NATIONWIDE hunt is being launched for a "fab four" quartet of oil beetles, which are at risk of vanishing from the UK countryside.
That there are many things that could take a leaf (or a bee egg) from the oil beetle's book, and simply disappear from our lives for a bit.
The site will be monitored and the lifecycle of the insect examined in more detail so the National Trust can work with its tenant farmer to make sure the land is managed in a way that helps the oil beetle flourish.
Forty short-necked oil beetles were discovered more than 200 miles from the spot they were last sighted at nearly 60 years ago.
Forty short-necked oil beetles - otherwise known as meloe brevicollis - were found near Salcombe, South Devon - more than 200 miles from their last sighting in Sussex nearly 60 years ago.