The Blister Beetle can be quite a pest to a garden or farm. Whether you are growing a small backyard garden or have a full-scale farm with livestock, they can cause damage. Blister Beetles can eat flowering crops, cause painful blisters on humans or pets, and even kill animals, especially horses, if consumed. By having some basic knowledge about the Blister Beetle, you can protect your plants, pets and family.
The Blister Beetle is in the Melodia family of insects. There are about 7,500 species known worldwide. Florida alone has 26 species, and Texas has well over 100. A few adult species are primarily nocturnal, but most don't have a distinct diet or activity cycle and are known as diurnal. The adult are ½ to 1 inch long, with slender bodies and wide heads. They are often brightly colored to announce their toxicity to predators.
When pressed or rubbed, Blister Beetles can secret a blistering agent. For humans, these blisters don't really require medical attention, and if kept clean, will disappear on their own. However, when consumed, the blister beetle can be toxic to livestock. A few beetles consumed by a horse in an alfalfa bail can make horses colic, and more than a few can be lethal.
Adults feed on leaves and flowers of a wide variety of plants, such as potatoes, soybeans, and generic garden vegetables. They are particularly fond of Alfalfa after it blooms.