Its Blister Beetle season again! There are lots of different blister beetles in the world, but the ones that have taken over OURSpace are Short-winged Blister Beetles (Meloe angusticollis) If you do handle them, be sure not to touch them with your skin. When disturbed, adult blister beetles exude a defensive yellow oil (cantharidin) that can cause painful blisters on human skin. They are all over the place in OURSpace. If you need to move one, we recommend that you use a leaf.
Cool story: Blister beetle babies are incredibly sneaky. The larvae disguise themselves as a female solitary bee by clumping together. When a male bee comes to mate with this “bee” it transfers those tiny blister beetle larvae to a female bee who unknowingly delivers the larvae to her underground burrow where she busily lays her eggs and brings provisions. The blister beetle larvae then consume the nectar and pollen as well as the solitary bee larva. Mature blister beetles emerge in early fall. Interestingly, we find blister beetles in similar areas that we find ground-nesting solitary bees. So there is a pretty intriguing connection between the insects we see in OURSpace in the fall (blister beetles) and those we see in the spring (tickle bees).
Keep and eye out for Blister Beetles on your next visit to High Park!