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Red-eared Blister Beetle

Lytta auriculata

Lytta auriculata photo by Michael Plagens

Photo taken March 9, 2008 west of Buckeye, Arizona, USA. Notice the red sap oozing from the chewed petals of this Rafinesquia neomexicana, Desert Chicory. This photo is also hosted at Wikimedia. Copyright Information.

Meloidae, or Blister Beetles, are common insects found on flowers especially during spring time in the Sonoran Desert. They feed on the petals and pollen as adults but live an entirely different life as immature larvae. The adults tend to have bright, aposomatic coloration set off by black. This is a warning that these beetles often contain noxious or poisonous compounds; birds and other insectivores tend to avoid meloids.

The larvae are parasitic in the nests of ground nesting bees or other ground nesting insects. The tiny, first stage larvae are mobile and seek out a suitable host. Once they attach to a host they become immobile drawing sustenance as they grow.

Another common and conspicuous Sonoran Desert blister beetle is the Iron Cross Blister Beetle -- Tegrodera aloga.

Meloidae -- Blister Beetle Family

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-07