Trivia question for Mar-02-2011

Posted on Mar 2, 2011 in Trivia

Carter decided on this particular insect for today’s trivia because it serves a very special purpose, let’s see if you can figure it out.

There are approximately 7,500 known species of this insect type worldwide. Many are conspicuous and some brightly colored, announcing their toxicity to would-be predators.  As a defensive mechanism these guys are able to secret a blistering agent which is a poisonous chemical that causes blistering of the skin.

This insect is highly toxic to horses. A few of these guys get accidentally consumed in a single feeding of alfalfa hay, and it may be lethal.  Poisonings have also been reported after use of “Spanish fly”-type folk medicines, and after handling these guys.

So here are Carter’s questions:   Tell us what this insect is and how humans use their toxic chemical for medical purposes, also tell us how likely you are to be bit by one of these guys.

Good Luck 😉


Carter obviously picked a good one.  The insect we featured are known as Blister Beetles.  Blister beetles are so called for their defensive secretion of a blistering agent, cantharidin.  Cantharidin is a poisonous chemical that causes blistering of the skin. Cantharidin is used medically to remove warts and is collected for this purpose from various species, especially those better known as “Spanish fly”.

Blister Beetles are not very aggressive towards humans unless they feel threatened.  For the most part, you could allow them to crawl on your arm or body without incident.  Here is more on these toxic bugs:  Blister Beetle

Thanks for playing along 😉