Blister beetles are a group of pests from the Meloidae family and there are more than 250 kinds of them. The color and sizes will depend on a number of factors, such as their specific type and their age. For instance, in the case of the black beetle, the color is purely black. For striped blister beetles, on the other hand, the body is brown or gray and it has yellow stripes. In most instances, the length of their body will be 9 to 15 millimeters on average. They have a soft body that is easy to crush, which makes it more important to be more cautious when dealing with the pest.
Blister Beetle’s Habitat
The habitat of blister beetles will depend on its specific stage of development. The eggs, for instance, are found in areas where they will have protection, such as under stones or plant debris. They can be seen in clusters and can also be above the ground, as long as there is a suitable cover. During the larval stage, they can live in different places and can be highly mobile. Basically, they can live anywhere there is food, such as bees. When it is time for pupation, the larvae will return to their nest, and soon, they will transform into adults.
Identifying Blister Beetle’s Damage
Blister beetles can have a wide arrange of hosts, with some of the most common being vegetable and ornamental crops. Also, most of their hosts are agricultural plants. To be specific, some of the most common plants that they eat and damage include eggplants, squash, peas, cabbage, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, alfalfa, beet, and melons.
The following are some of the signs that will give you an idea of the presence of blister beetles:
- Most of the species of blister beetles will damage the leaves of their host plants. It will lead to an irregular and unattractive appearance of the leaf because of its chewing. Eventually, this will inhibit the flow of nutrients to the other parts of the plant, allowing the latter to wilt and die.
- In severe cases, blister beetles will cause defoliation of the host plant. It will leave only the stems and petioles.
- In some plants, the blister beetles will eat the flowers. Like in the leaves, there will also be an irregular appearance.
Results of Infestation
In severe cases of infestation, many commercial growers may end up in frustration. Most of the damages will be evident on the leaves of the host plant. At its worst, this can lead to defoliation. The plant will suffer from lack of the nutrients that it needs for survival. Therefore, it can wilt and die. Some crops may also end up unattractive. In the end, this can equate to profit loss due to unmarketability of the crops. During late or mid-summer, their population is at its highest. They can attack plants in swarms and hence, this is when the infestation can be most serious.
How to Get Rid of Blister Beetles
Natural and Organic Solutions
To control and manage blister beetles without the need to resort to the use of toxic methods, below are some of the solutions that will work best:
- Start with manual removal of the blister beetles. If you see them, take them out of the plant. It is best to do this as early as possible. If the population is already high, it will be too late. When hand-picking, remember to wear gloves. They have a soft body and they release toxic chemicals that can irritate the skin. If not properly handled, they can lead to blisters. Be sure to also throw them properly as they can be toxic to livestock, among others.
- Management of weeds is another preventive and control measure that will work. When there are more weeds, there will be a site for them to hide, especially their eggs. If the weeds are low, on the other hand, you will easily get rid of blister beetles.
- To manage blister beetles, you also need to manage the presence of grasshoppers. Blister beetles are known as natural enemies of grasshoppers. Therefore, if there is no food for them, their population will not be high.
- More than the weeds, you also need to pay attention to garden sanitation. Make sure that there is no suitable breeding site for the blister beetle.
- Using fabric or row covers will also help to prevent beetles from being in contact with the plants. Remember, however, that you also need to take the cover at some point, especially when it is time for pollination.
Similar to the case of controlling other pests, it is best to stay away from the use of chemical control methods. They are toxic not only to beetles, but even to beneficial insects in the garden. They can also harm humans, especially with an improper application. When using chemicals, make sure to follow the instructions from the manufacturer. Wearing the right protective equipment is also necessary. In some instances, there is a need to rely on the help of a professional.
Amongst the chemicals for the treatment of blister beetles, pyrethroids and carbaryl are some of the most popular. To be specific, Sevin is one of the favorite brands for an insecticide that you can use for blister beetles.