Monday, 6 June 2016

Insect of the Week - June 6, 2016

Blister Beetles (predator)

Last year, the focus of the Insect of the Week was crop pests. This year, we’re changing things up and highlighting the many natural enemies that help you out, silently and efficiently killing off crop pests. [note: featured Insects of the Week in 2015 are available on the Insect of the Week page] 

This week’s Insect of the Week is the blister beetle (Lytta nuttalli and Epicauta spp.). This is a good news/bad news story. The good news is that the Epicauta spp. larvae feed on grasshopper eggs. But the bad news is that the Nuttall blister beetle larvae feed on ground-dwelling leaf-cutter and bumble bees. The bad news continues: adult blister beetles contain a toxin, cantharidin. When beetles get baled in with alfalfa hay, the toxin can cause severe distress in livestock, especially horses.

See more information in the new Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural Enemies in Western Canada - Identification and Management Field Guide for identification, life cycle and conservation options (download links for field guide available on the Insect of the Week page).
Adult blister beetles. Photo credit: Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org