Black blister beetle Epicauta pensylcanica
IDENTIFICATION – The black blister beetle comes by its name honestly – if you touch it, you can get blisters on your skin. These insects are a common pest of crops and gardens east of the Rocky Mountains. In the garden they shred foliage and flowers, working from the outer edges in. Damage is seen in spring.
LIFE CYCLE – You may notice an increase in black blister beetle populations the season after a bad grasshopper year. The larvae feed on grasshopper eggs in the soil. They overwinter as pupae and emerge in the spring as adults. Adult black blister beetles are strong fliers so it’s common to have sudden swarms on plants. One generation is produced each year.
CONTROL – In the spring, when you see black blister beetles on your plants, dust them well with Sevin® to keep them from taking over your garden.