Lytta nuttalli

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Lytta nuttalli
Nuttall's blister beetle, Waubay Wetland Management District.jpg
Nuttall's blister beetle on a milkvetch plant at Waterfowl Production Area in Waubay Wetland Management District, SD
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Coleoptera
Family: Meloidae
Genus: Lytta
L. nuttalli
Binomial name
Lytta nuttalli
Say, 1824

Lytta nuttalli, or Nuttall's blister beetle, is a species of North American beetle first described in 1824 by Thomas_Say.[1][2]. The genus Lytta is from a Latin word suggesting madness[3] The specific nuttallii recognizes the contributions of Thomas Nuttall, a contemporary of Say.[4]

The brilliant purple and green iridescent exoskeleton of Nuttall's blister beetles are a sharp contrast to the prairie plants of their native habitat.[5] This species is found in Canada (Alberta to Manitoba) and the United States (Idaho south to Arizona, east to Minnesota and New Mexico).[5] A disjunct population exists in eastern California restricted to higher altitudes.[5]

This species is one of over 3,000 species included in the family Meloidae or 'blister beetles'.[6] Adult beetles of species in this family are able to synthesize an irritating chemical 'cantharidin' that is used to deter predators.[6]

The larvae of blister beetles in the genus Lytta feed in the nests of solitary bees in the family Apidae on the bee larvae and the food stored by the bee for its own larvae.[5][7][8]

As adults, 'Nuttall's blister beetles' are known to feed in groups on green plants, particularly legumes.[5][9][10][11] This behaviour can create problems for farmers when the beetles feed on soybeans, sweetclover, alfalfa, or other crops.[12] Animals that eat the beetles in hay or forage may be poisoned by the beetles' chemical defense.[12][9] The beetles are not considered a serious agricultural pest as their populations are naturally limited by their need for native ground nesting bees as larvae.[9][12]


  1. ^ "ITIS Standard Report Page: Lytta nuttalli". Retrieved 17 October 2019.
  2. ^ "Comprehensive Report Species - Lytta nuttallii". Retrieved 17 October 2019.
  3. ^ "Origins of names (Entomological Etymology) - BugGuide.Net". Retrieved 17 October 2019.
  4. ^ "Cornus nuttallii - Plant Finder". Retrieved 17 October 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d e Schmidt, Jason Patric (2008). Insects of western North America: The Blister Beetles (Meloidae) of Colorado. Fort Collins, CO: C.P. Gillette Museum of Arthropod Diversity, Colorado State University.
  6. ^ a b Du, Chao; Zhang, Lifang; Lu, Ting; Ma, Jingnan; Zeng, Chenjuan; Yue, Bisong; Zhang, Xiuyue (2017). "Mitochondrial genomes of blister beetles (Coleoptera, Meloidae) and two large intergenic spacers in Hycleus genera". BMC Genomics. 18 (1): 698. doi:10.1186/s12864-017-4102-y. PMC 5585954. PMID 28874137.
  7. ^ "Genus Lytta - BugGuide.Net". Retrieved 17 October 2019.
  8. ^ Church, N. S.; Gerber, G. H. (1977). "Observations on the Ontogeny and Habits of Lytta Nuttalli, L. Viridana, and L. Cyanipennis (Coleoptera: Meloidae): The Adults and Eggs". The Canadian Entomologist. 109 (4): 565–573. doi:10.4039/Ent109565-4. Retrieved 17 October 2019.
  9. ^ a b c Philip, Hugh. Field crop and forage pests and their natural enemies in western Canada : identification and management field guide (PDF). Government of Canada. ISBN 978-1-100-25768-6. Retrieved 17 October 2019.
  10. ^ "Species Lytta nuttalli - Nuttall's Blister Beetle - BugGuide.Net".
  11. ^ Burgess. "Damage to Rapeseed Plants by Two Species of Blister Beetles". Retrieved 7 December 2016.
  12. ^ a b c "Blister Beetles in Soybeans (06/28/18) — Crop & Pest Report". Retrieved 17 October 2019.