Thursday, May 21, 2009

Blister Beetle in Cape May

The following are photos of an interesting beetle that I found in one of the fields at Higbee Beach in Cape May. This beetle belongs to the family Meloidae, commonly called blister beetles. When squeezed, these beetles release a chemical called Cantharidin, an irritant that can blister skin or cause urinary tract damage. The chemical will also kill horses if ingested in hay bales.

This individual appears to belong to genus Meloe, most likely a Short-winged Blister Beetle (Meloe angusticollis). For comparison, here is an example of a Short-winged Blister Beetle from Gloucester County, NJ.

The insect depicted below was quite large for a beetle. Its exterior appeared variably black and metallic green. It appeared to prefer lurking in the shade of grass clumps.