Blister Beetles (Meloidae)

Blister beetles are a family of beetles known for releasing a chemical agent cantharidin to defend themselves. There are around 7500 species assigned to this family.

Common Beetles Belonging to this Family

Scientific Classification

Blister beetles are divided into four subfamilies, further, split into several genera. Most of these genera are grouped into separate tribes, with certain exceptions.

1. Eleticinae


  • Anthicoxenus
  • Deridea
  • Iselma
  • Iselmeletica


  • Ceriselma
  • Morphozonitis
  • Steniselma


  • Eletica


  • Eospasta
  • Protomeloe
  • Spastica
  • Xenospasta

2. Meloinae


  • Anisarthrocera
  • Cerocoma
  • Diaphorocera
  • Rhampholyssa
  • Rhampholyssodes


  • Denierella
  • Epicauta
  • Linsleya
  • Psalydolytta


  • Cordylospasta
  • Cysteodemus
  • Eupompha
  • Megetra
  • Phodaga
  • Pleropasta
  • Tegrodera


  • Acrolytta
  • Afrolytta
  • Alosimus
  • Berberomeloe
  • Cabalia
  • Dictyolytta
  • Eolydus
  • Epispasta
  • Lagorina
  • Lydomorphus
  • Lydulus
  • Lydus
  • Lytta
  • Lyttolydulus
  • Lyttonyx
  • Megalytta
  • Muzimes
  • Oenas
  • Parameloe
  • Paroenas
  • Physomeloe
  • Prionotolytta
  • Prolytta
  • Pseudosybaris
  • Sybaris
  • Teratolytta
  • Tetraolytta
  • Trichomeloe


  • Cyaneolytta
  • Lyttomeloe
  • Meloe
  • Spastomeloe
  • Spastonyx


  • Actenodia
  • Ceroctis
  • Croscherichia
  • Hycleus
  • Lydoceras
  • Mimesthes
  • Mylabris
  • Paractenodia
  • Pseudabris
  • Semenovilia
  • Xanthabris


  • Bokermannia
  • Brasiliota
  • Denierota
  • Glaphyrolytta
  • Lyttamorpha
  • Picnoseus
  • Pseudopyrota
  • Pyrota
  • Wagneronota

Genera that are not assigned to a tribe, i.e., incertae sedis

  • Australytta
  • Calydus
  • Gynapteryx
  • Oreomeloe
  • Pseudomeloe

3. Nemognathinae


  • Cissites
  • Horia
  • Synhoria


  • Cochliophorus
  • Euzonitis
  • Gnathium
  • Gnathonemula
  • Leptopalpus
  • Megatrachelus
  • Nemognatha
  • Palaestra
  • Palaestrida
  • Pseudozonitis
  • Rhyphonemognatha
  • Stenodera
  • Zonitis
  • Zonitodema
  • Zonitolytta
  • Zonitomorpha
  • Zonitoschema


  • Allendeselazaria
  • Apalus
  • Ctenopus
  • Glasunovia
  • Nyadatus
  • Sitaris
  • Sitarobrachys
  • Stenoria

  Genera incertae sedis

  • Hornia
  • Onyctenus
  • Sitaromorpha
  • Tricrania

4. Tetraonycinae


  • Meloetyphlus
  • Opiomeloe
  • Tetraonyx

Physical Description and Identification


Size: 0.375-1 in (0.95-2.5 cm)

Color: The colors vary greatly from yellow to gray, with stripes seen on some of them. This aposematic coloration helps them warn off predators.

Other Characteristic Features: Their bodies are soft, with deflexed heads and long legs.


The larvae go through several instars in this stage, with their bodies elongating with each molt.


Pupation occurs inside a chamber excavated in the last instar.


Female moths lay eggs in masses on or under the host plant.

Quick Facts

Lifespan 3 months
Distribution Throughout the Americas, primarily in the United States.
Habitat Arid areas
Seasons active Summer to early fall
Host Plants Alfalfa and soybean
Diet of adults Flowers and leaves of plants like amaranth, aster, legume, and nightshade

Identifying the Damage Caused by Them

Blister beetles secrete a toxic chemical called cantharidin. While not fatal, blisters and irritation are very likely to occur if ingested.

Did You Know

  • The larvae feed on insects like bees and grasshoppers, which make up a vast portion of their diet.
  • Swedish entomologist Leonard Gyllenhaal first described this family of beetles in 1810.

  • Oil Beetles (Meloe)

    The oil beetles belong to the family of blister beetles. They are known for secreting venomous oils and utilizing bees to raise their larva.

  • Striped Blister Beetle (Epicauta vittata)

    The striped blister beetle is a member of the family of blister beetles. Found in the eastern parts of North America, it is a huge pest to several different crops. Danish Zoologist Johan Christian Fabricius first described the species in 1775.

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    Black blister beetle of the blister beetles family is indigenous to parts of the United States and Southern Canada. It has an entirely black body, which in turn is the outcome of its name.

  • Iron Cross Blister Beetle (Tegrodera aloga)

    Iron cross blister beetle of the blister beetle (Meloidae) family is indigenous to North and Central America. Its bright spotted appearance results from the cantharidin toxin secreted from its antennae, and legs leading to painful blisters in humans when touched. When ingested by livestock, particularly horses, the beetle could result in severe injury or even […]

  • American Oil Beetle (Meloe americanus)

    American oil beetle, a part of the blister beetle (Meloidae) family, is indigenous to different parts of North America. They primarily feed on buttercup plants, hence also called the buttercup oil beetle.