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Family Meloidae - Blister Beetles

Something near Nemognatha - Zonitis vittigera Striped Blister Beetle? - Epicauta vittata Orange-legged black blister beetle - Lytta aenea Meloe - female Oil beetle - Meloe - male Insects  - Lytta nuttalli - male - female Blister Beetle - Nemognatha Meloid - Meloe
Classification
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Coleoptera (Beetles)
Suborder Polyphaga
No Taxon (Series Cucujiformia)
Superfamily Tenebrionoidea
Family Meloidae (Blister Beetles)
Explanation of Names
Meloidae Gyllenhaal 1810
the common name refers to the ability of causing skin blisters
Numbers
~410 spp. in 22 genera of 3 subfamilies in our area, ~3000 spp. in 120 genera of 4 subfamilies worldwide(1)(2)
Overview of our fauna
Family Meloidae
Subfamily Meloinae
Tribe Lyttini Lytta
Tribe Meloini Meloe
Incertae sedis Spastonyx
Subfamily Nemognathinae
Size
3‒70 mm(3), typically 10‒20 mm
Identification
Key to New World genera in(4)Overview of FL fauna (Selander & Fasulo 2010)(5)
Short-winged forms
Range
worldwide, with greatest diversity in arid/semiarid areas (in our area, sw. US)(1)
Food
For larval food, most use the provisions and brood of native ground-nesting bees (esp. Megachilidae & Andrenidae); several genera (in our area, Epicauta & Linsleya) use grasshopper eggs (Acridoidea)(6). Adults feed on leaves and flowers of several families, incl. Asteraceae, Fabaceae, and Solanaceae(1)
Life Cycle
Life cycle is hypermetamorphic, takes from 30 days to 3 yrs. Larvae are parasitoids. Eggs are laid in batches in soil near nests of hosts, sometimes in nest, or on stems/foliage/flowers. First instar larvae (triungulins) are active, have well-developed legs and antennae, and search for hosts. Later instars tend to have reduced legs and be less active. There is a coarctate (pseudopupal) stage, which is usually how the larvae overwinter.(1)(7)
Triungulins of some meloids, e.g. Meloe, aggregate and attract male bees with chemicals (Saul-Gershenz & Millar 2006)
Remarks
Rubbing or squashing blister beetles may cause them to exude hemolymph which contains cantharidin, a blistering compound. Ingestion of beetles can be fatal. Epicauta occidentalis can be a problem for livestock as they get caught in with the alfalfa feed. Several other Epicauta and Meloe spp. may also be present in alfalfa. (Capinera et. al. 1985)
Males of some other beetles (notably, Pedilus and some Anthicidae) seek out blister beetles, lick off the exuded cantharidin, and use the agent to impress females; the cantharidin is transferred to the female with the sperm during mating. The laid eggs are coated with cantharidin to protect from predators. Some plant bugs (e.g. Aoplonema) are also attracted to meloid beetles. (based on Jim McClarin's comment)
See Also
Cantharidae have flat elytra · Oedemeridae have no "neck" · Pyrochroidae · Ripiphoridae and Cleridae also have bee-parasitizing triungulins
Internet References
(8)
Texas Meloidae (Quinn 2015)
Works Cited
1.American Beetles, Volume II: Polyphaga: Scarabaeoidea through Curculionoidea
Arnett, R.H., Jr., M. C. Thomas, P. E. Skelley and J. H. Frank. (eds.). 2002. CRC Press LLC, Boca Raton, FL.
2.Order Coleoptera Linnaeus, 1758. In: Zhang Z.-Q. (ed.) Animal biodiversity: An outline of higher-level classification...
Ślipiński S.A., Leschen R.A.B., Lawrence J.F. 2011. Zootaxa 3148: 203–208.
3.The Meloidae (Coleoptera) of Wisconsin
Marschalek D.A., Young D.K. 2015. Zootaxa 4030: 1‒89.
4.The New World genera of Meloidae (Coleoptera): a key and synopsis
Pinto J.D., Bologna M.A. 1999. J. Nat. Hist. 33: 569‒620.
5.University of Florida: Featured Creatures
6.Blister beetles (Coleoptera: Meloidae) of Wisconsin: distribution and ecology
Marschalek D.A. 2013. University of Wisconsin - Madison. PhD dissertation. viii+349 pp.
7.Peterson Field Guides: Beetles
Richard E. White. 1983. Houghton Mifflin Company.
8.Meloidae.com