January 8th, 2016


280 days of Urbpandemonium #225

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Imagine my surprise, walking down the sidewalk in a small New England town in January, when encounter a large beetle. It was moving in a determined but unhurried manner. I recognized its strange shape--small front segments, big wide abdomen--from looking through beetle pics on bugguide. I guessed "blister beetle," and set upon handling it very carefully.

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Blister beetles are named for their ability to exude a chemical that can cause chemical burns to human skin. This big one here is in the genus Meroe*, a group known as "oil beetles;" presumably the yellow hemolymph they ooze is more memorable for its alarming oily appearance then for blistering naturalists.

These beetles are noteworthy as well for their life cycle: a mobile larva hatches from the egg and makes it way up to a flower where it will hitch a ride on a non-colonial bee. Some oil beetles release a scent that attracts male bees. Then the "triangulin," as this life stage is known, gains entry to the bee's nursery. It metamorphoses into another intermediate stage, less motile and more suited to lazily consuming the fruits of the bee's labor. Eventually it becomes the glorious animal pictured here. As to why it was waltzing down Mountain Road in Suffield in the dead of winter, I blame Climate Change.

(thanks to ankhanu* Origin obscure, may come from early medical literature (the term melloes appears in the writings of Paracelsus);