Wild Weeds
Iron Cross Blister Beetle

      Blister beetles are extremely varied in appearance. In fact, they don't all even belong to the same genus, but the one thing they have in common is that they all excrete cantharidin from their joints. It's this cantharidin which is the active ingredient in the infamous aphrodisiac known as Spanish fly. The actual Spanish fly is a variety of blister beetle which is emerald-green and it belongs to the genus Lytta. The Iron Cross Blister Beetle, on the other hand, is red, black, and yellow, and it belongs to the genus Tegrodera. Recently the desert southwest has seen millions of these little bugs crawling all over the place. Here in Trona the beetles seemed particularly attracted to broad-leaved gilia (Gilia latifolia), whereas elsewhere different plants such as desert woolly star (Eriastrum eremicum), for instance, seemed to be their preferred food source.


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Be careful if you pick it up
Cuz it excretes cantharidin
And it will cause some nasty
Blisters on your skin

Some crave aphrodisiacs
Don't ask me why
But this cantharidin
Is the same thing that's in Spanish fly

It may not look all that bad
Or fly around like an eagle
But crawling on this broad-leaved gilia
Is the Iron Cross Blister Beetle

(Illegal for sale in most countries, Spanish fly contains cantharidin, which as it passes through the body irritates the genitals, thus mimicing the engorgement that occurs when one is sexually excited.)

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