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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.

Striped Blister Beetle

Scientific Classification

  • Family: Meloidae
  • Genus: Epicauta
  • Scientific name: Epicauta vittata

Physical Description and Identification

Adult

Size: 9-17 mm

Color: Its color varies with its location but remains primarily black and yellow. There are two black spots on its head, two black stripes on its thorax, and two to three stripes on its wing covers.

Other Characteristic Features: This beetle is elongated and slender, with its body covered with short hairs and minor indentations. Its thorax is smaller than the head and abdomen, while its legs and antennae are adequately long. The elytra cover its abdomen, diverging at the tip. Its hindwings are transparent.

Epicauta vittata

Larva

They start as white before eventually turning reddish-brown. The larva has long legs initially, making it mobile, growing shorter as they mature over time. Their diet consists of grasshopper eggs, primarily those of the two-striped grasshopper and the differential grasshopper.

Pupa

The pupa resembles the adult, but its wings and legs are more closely held to its body.  They mature over 9-13 days, starting as white before finally taking on a darker color.

Egg

They are white and 2mm long. The females produce 100-200 eggs every 10 days, laying them in the soil and covering them. The larva takes about 16 days to hatch from the eggs.

Quick Facts

Other NamesOld-fashioned potato beetle
Lifespan20-50 days
DistributionNorth America; South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma in the United States and Quebec and Ontario in Canada
HabitatAgricultural fields
PredatorsFrogs, robber flies, and several birds like the eastern bluebird, the scissor-tailed flycatcher, and the western meadowlark
Seasons activeSummer to early Fall
Host plantsAmaranths
Diet of adultsAlfalfa, beans, corn, eggplant, potato, radish, spinach, and soybeans
Striped Blister Beetle Damage

Identifying the Damage Caused by Them

It is a voracious feeder and is believed to spread the bean mottle virus to soybean plants. Also, like other blister beetles, it is toxic due to its body containing cantharidin. Beetles found in alfalfa hay may end up in the horses’ diet, causing them to get poisoned as well.

Did You Know

  • It cannot tolerate warm climates and seeks shelter during mid-day. If the environment becomes too hot, it may end up appearing only during the evening.
Striped Blister Beetle Picture

Image Source: bugguide.net, content.ces.ncsu.edu, entomology.k-state.edu

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.

Striped Blister Beetle

Physical Description and Identification

Adult

Size: 9-17 mm

Color: Its color varies with its location but remains primarily black and yellow. There are two black spots on its head, two black stripes on its thorax, and two to three stripes on its wing covers.

Other Characteristic Features: This beetle is elongated and slender, with its body covered with short hairs and minor indentations. Its thorax is smaller than the head and abdomen, while its legs and antennae are adequately long. The elytra cover its abdomen, diverging at the tip. Its hindwings are transparent.

Epicauta vittata

Larva

They start as white before eventually turning reddish-brown. The larva has long legs initially, making it mobile, growing shorter as they mature over time. Their diet consists of grasshopper eggs, primarily those of the two-striped grasshopper and the differential grasshopper.

Pupa

The pupa resembles the adult, but its wings and legs are more closely held to its body.  They mature over 9-13 days, starting as white before finally taking on a darker color.

Egg

They are white and 2mm long. The females produce 100-200 eggs every 10 days, laying them in the soil and covering them. The larva takes about 16 days to hatch from the eggs.

Quick Facts

Other NamesOld-fashioned potato beetle
Lifespan20-50 days
DistributionNorth America; South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma in the United States and Quebec and Ontario in Canada
HabitatAgricultural fields
PredatorsFrogs, robber flies, and several birds like the eastern bluebird, the scissor-tailed flycatcher, and the western meadowlark
Seasons activeSummer to early Fall
Host plantsAmaranths
Diet of adultsAlfalfa, beans, corn, eggplant, potato, radish, spinach, and soybeans
Striped Blister Beetle Damage

Identifying the Damage Caused by Them

It is a voracious feeder and is believed to spread the bean mottle virus to soybean plants. Also, like other blister beetles, it is toxic due to its body containing cantharidin. Beetles found in alfalfa hay may end up in the horses’ diet, causing them to get poisoned as well.

Did You Know

  • It cannot tolerate warm climates and seeks shelter during mid-day. If the environment becomes too hot, it may end up appearing only during the evening.
Striped Blister Beetle Picture

Image Source: bugguide.net, content.ces.ncsu.edu, entomology.k-state.edu

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