Oil Beetles

Photo of a meloe blister beetle, female, on ground
Scientific Name
Meloe spp.
Meloidae (blister beetles) in the order Coleoptera (beetles)

Blister beetles in the genus Meloe are called oil beetles because of a yellowish oil they excrete from their joints when squeezed or distressed. This oil contains cantharidin, an irritating chemical that can cause blistering in many people. Male oil beetles have weird kinks in their antennae for clasping the females during courtship. There are more than 20 Meloe species in North America, and all look rather similar: black, chubby, lacking hind wings, and with very short, overlapping wing covers. Learn more about oil beetles and other blister beetles (family Meloidae) in their family page.

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About Land Invertebrates in Missouri
Invertebrates are animals without backbones, including earthworms, slugs, snails, and arthropods. Arthropods—invertebrates with “jointed legs” — are a group of invertebrates that includes crayfish, shrimp, millipedes, centipedes, mites, spiders, and insects. There may be as many as 10 million species of insects alive on earth today, and they probably constitute more than 90 percent all animal species.