Blister Beetle, Jacksboro, TX. Photo by Jeff Brown
Common names: Black Blister Beetle, Margined Blister Beetle, Silver Blister Beetle, Spotted Blister Beetle, Striped Blister Beetle
Scientific name: Order Coleoptera, family Meloidae, Epicauta spp.
Size: Adult - 1/2" to 1"
Identification: Adult beetles are long and slender head is wider than the neck. They have black or yellow stripes; some are solid gray in color, others blue, purple, green, or brown. These beetles are usually hard to see.
One of the most toxic blister beetles and has the most dramatic warning colors. It is found normally in deserts environments.
Biology and life cycle: Complete metamorphosis. Cylindrical eggs laid in the soil in the summer. Larvae vary in appearance with each instar. Younger instars are lighter in color. One generation per year. Overwinter as larvae in the soil.
Photo by Pam G.
Habitat: Many plants, especially food crops. Lower leaves of tomato and potato plants.
Feeding habits: Larvae of some species like to eat grasshopper eggs. Adults eat various plant leaves. Especially a problem on vegetable plants and in alfalfa hay. Like foliage and fruits. Larvae are predaceous.
Economic importance: Reported to be extremely dangerous to horses if eaten accidentally in hay. Not considered to be a big problem otherwise.
Natural control: Establish strong biodiversity.
Organic control: Spray kaolin clay in a mixture of manure compost tea, molasses, and plant oil products.
Insight: All blister beetles produce an irritating substance called cantharidin, which can blister the skin. Blister beetle larvae will eat grasshopper eggs.