|University of Kentucky Department of Entomology|
Mystery Bug Answers
Mystery Picture #60
This common insect is a kind of grasshopper. The long, thin antennae on this one let you know that it's a "long-horned" grasshopper. "Short-horned" grasshoppers have much shorter, thicker antennae. Just like all grasshoppers, long-horned grasshoppers eat lots of leaves, which they devour with their powerful chewing mouthparts. In addition to hopping, most grasshoppers are also very good flyers. In fact, they often use their legs to become airborne, and then use their wings to fly long distances.
Blister beetles come in lots of colors, but most of them have a distinctive, ant-like appearance. The one in the picture is the margined blister beetle, and it is common in Kentucky. The larvae of margined blister beetles develop as parasites, living on the egg masses of grasshoppers. These beetles can give you blisters if you pick them up or crush them, so be careful. Blister beetles can be an even more serious problem on farms if large numbers of them are crushed and mixed into alfalfa hay during harvest. The poisonous substance in blister beetles (called cantharidin) it is as toxic as cyanide or strychnine! Horses are particularly vulnerable (they can die within 72 hours of eating the toxin), but cattle and sheep feeding on hay contaminated with crushed blister beetles are also susceptible. You might also like to take a look at Entfact 102- Blister Beetles in Alfalfa for more information.
This page is maintained by Pat Dillon, Department of Entomology, University of Kentucky. Please send questions or suggestions to: firstname.lastname@example.org