Meet the Blister Beetle

You’ve probably known about beetles since childhood, but what about blister beetles? While they might look like your typical garden beetle, they can do much more harm. Here’s everything to know about blister beetles.

Where Do Blister Beetles Live?

Blister beetles are often found where grasshoppers (their main source of food) are common throughout the United States. They have also been seen in the West Indies as well as South and Central America.

When Are Blister Beetles Most Active?

According to North Carolina State, you’re most likely to see these pests from June to September, with them being most prevalent in July.

What Do Blister Beetles Eat?

When it comes to the blister beetle diet, there’s not a lot that they won’t eat in your garden. Blister beetle larvae only eat grasshopper eggs, but you can find adult blister beetles munching on flowers like amaranth, dandelions, sunflowers, chrysanthemums, alfalfa and acacia, in addition to their preferred source of grasshoppers. They are also known to eat beans, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants and peppers. According to the University of Florida, most blister beetle adults eat only the floral parts of the plants but may also eat the leaves on occasion. It is their expansive feeding habits that can cause trouble for homeowners.

How Can Blister Beetles Cause Harm to People and Animals?

Besides the damage they can cause to gardens and crops, blister beetles can also pose harm to humans, pets and livestock. Blister beetles produce a toxin called cantharidin. In humans, this can cause minor side effects like skin irritation and blistering. For animals, accidentally ingesting blister beetles may cause gastrointestinal irritation, poisoning or death. While horses are usually the most affected, you should continue to monitor your pet’s health for signs of blister beetle bites. Check for symptoms of poisoning such as anorexia, salivation, a purple-blue line on the gums and bloody urine or stools. Consult a veterinarian for further instruction.

How Can You Control Blister Beetles?

Prevention starts with proper blister beetle identification. Frequent monitoring of your property can be just as important. Blister beetles usually range from three-quarters to two centimeters in length. They also have distinguished long legs and black bodies. That said, black blister beetles are often confused with other species of beetles that exhibit similar sizing and coloring. It’s best to consult a pest management professional to help determine the exact species. This can help determine the most appropriate treatment for your infestation.

 

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