They have no defensive system, their black and red colors warn their predators of their bad taste. When defending, they secrete a blood-red hem lymphatic substance, called cantharidin, which is very irritating to the touch. Adult size varies widely, from 15 to 75 mm . Singharidin is excreted along with its blood (hemolymph) through lateral holes when it feels attacked or in danger. This reddish liquid if touched causes a burning sensation like that produced by boiling oil on the skin, hence its vulgar or common name. This substance is known as cantharidin which causes redness, rashes and irritation on contact with the skin. If you have oral contact, it causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and irritation in the urinary system and causes the erection of the penis, which is why it was previously considered an aphrodisiac substance. The signs that appear are: Five minutes after the poison deposit, edema begins, erythema; whitish spot at the site of the poison deposit. After fifteen minutes, the ampules accentuate their size; Later it appears, dizziness, hypertension, tachycardia, vomiting.
Description or characteristics
Genre: Berberomeloe Species: B. insignis, B. majalis
Animal type: Beetle [2,3].
They are arthropods of the insect class of the order Coleoptera
and of the family Meloidae. Within the arthropod biodiversity in
Mexico we can find endemic species of Eurasian, Mediterranean,
Atlantic, North African and endemic origin. Its common name is
oil or curica. There are two species: Bermeromeloe majalis and
Berberomeloe insignis. B. majalis has a head of rounded temples
of total black color, it may include a reddish or orange transverse
band below each abdominal tergite. Berberomeloe insignis its
temples are more prominent, red in the temples, it has no color
in the abdominal region. B. insignis is more than 8 cm, total black
with red or orange temples. Its antennae are shaped like saws with
a quadrangular pronotum with a smooth surface. It is a walking
beetle, it cannot fly and it makes it easier to run over it on highways
and roads. Throughout history they have been given various uses:
cleaning and healing of wounds infected or with myiasis, until their
use as an abortifacient and powerful aphrodisiac, perhaps the latter
the best [4-6].
In their biological cycle, the imagos appear between March and May, their preferred plants are: thyme, rosemary, albaida, rockrose. Many of these beings make poison their secret weapon, warning the world of its toxicity thanks to the presence in their bodies of thorns, stingers or bright colors . They have no defensive system, their black and red colors warn their predators of their bad taste. When defending, they secrete a blood-red hemolymphatic substance, called cantharidin, which is very irritating to the touch. Bermeromeloe majalis and Berberomeloe insignis have mitochondrial DNA. Both are in a state of disappearance, due to the expansion of agricultural areas, use of pesticides, herbicides, human habitat. Its venom is a powerful biocide, causing great impacts on the group of insects in general, having been able to reduce bee colonies by 40% worldwide , due to the intimate relationship it has Berberomeloe majalis with the Order Hymenoptera, due to the aforementioned obligate parasitoid habit developed by the larva, and which is essential to complete its biological cycle, makes it necessary to study this potential relationship. Adult size varies widely, from 15 to 75 mm .
Some authors mention that it is found throughout the Iberian peninsula, others indicate that it is distributed to the Southeast of the Iberian Peninsula in regions of altitude of 3000-900 masl, in semi-arid areas .
The female has an elongated and fusiform black abdomen. Head and thorax poorly developed compared to the abdomen. With transverse bands of red-yellow-orange color, on the back of each abdominal segment. This coloration may be absent, so uniform black species can be observed. Short antennas formed by 11 spheroidal knuckles. Head and thorax thickly dotted. Dotted elytra and much shorter than the abdomen, which is almost completely exposed. They have no wings. Bermeromeloe majalis and Berberomeloe insignis present a metamorphosis process in which two or more different types of larvae participate, it is known as hyper metamorphosis. In this case it behaves like a parasitic species. When the female lays eggs, she helps with her legs and body to make a shallow hole in the ground. At the beginning of the summer the first larvae, of small size, come to the surface and look for flowering plants to which they climb to locate in the corolla of a flower. This elongated larva has three strong nails at the end of each leg, for this characteristic they are called triungulinus. These nails allow a great grip on any insect that stands on the flower, especially by the solitary bee or by another insect such as serphids and bumble bees. For this reason they lay hundreds of eggs. If the Bermeromeloe majalis and Berberomeloe insignis larva is capable of supporting itself to be transported by the appropriate solitary bee to its nest or honeycomb, it will have completed the most complicated part of the oiler cycle. The body of the new larva is fuller and larger, and will feed on the pollen stored by the solitary bee, in the nest or honeycomb. Upon reaching the pupal stage, it will take time for the person to become an imago or an adult. These appear from April to May, being from June in areas with higher altitudes, such as Sierra Nevada (Figures 1-3).
Its habitat is in a semi-arid zone, with low precipitation, with shrubby vegetation, where there are no trees; prefer dry areas in summer with sparse vegetation and close to forested areas and rural habitats. In Spain it lives from the Iberian Strip from the south, Granada, Almería and Murcia. Lives in carbonated soils, loams, limestones and dolomites, yesiferous and subsalt loams. But these habitats tend to gradually disappear and this beetle is on the list of the Red Book of invertebrates in Spain, Andalusia .
In the larval phase they feed on adults and eggs of hymenoptera: bees and wasps. Once inside the nest, the larva feeds on a bee pupa and occupies the corresponding cell. From this moment it feeds on nectar and pollen given by the solitary bee. When growing it forms a pseudopupa that after a time gives rise to a second larva with a very different morphology from the previous one. In the adult phase it consumes flowers and leaves of plants.
Berberomeloe insignis has uninvolving phenology (they complete a single life cycle throughout the year), during the day they are more active in the months of March - May. The male courtship for the female, which consists of chasing her next to her abdominal apex, then she proceeds to dig a hole to lay her eggs. When hatching the eggs they look for Apoidea nests to feed.
There are no differences in the amount of cantharidin produced by species with and without rays. She has cantharidin that she excretes with her blood (hemolymph) through lateral holes when she feels attacked or in danger. This reddish liquid if touched causes a burning sensation like that produced by boiling oil on the skin, hence its vulgar or common name. As a defense mechanism, Berberomeloe majalis exudes a few drops of an oilylooking substance (hence the popular name for oil cans), which is very toxic and irritating, especially if it comes into contact with the mucosa and eyes. This substance is known as cantharidin, which causes redness, rashes and irritation on contact with the skin. If it is consumed orally, it causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and irritation in the urinary system and causes the erection of the penis, which is why it was formerly considered an aphrodisiac substance. For this reason this species presents these warning colors, also called aposematics. The royal oil poison is used to eliminate warts, the body of these insects is stored in olive oil to be applied in blister or vomiting pustules, diarrea. High toxicity chemical compound found in its hemolymph, called cantharidin, vesicant on contact and potentially fatal, due to the powerful nephrotoxic effects caused by its intake, possessing an estimated LD50 of 0.03g/Kg [2,6].
Symptoms and Signs
When threatened, it secretes a substance that resembles an oily liquid called cantharidin with its length of more than 6 cm, it is extremely toxic. One of the most remarkable characteristics of these insects is their defensive system based on a highly toxic chemical compound found in their hemolymph, called cantharidin, vesicant on contact and potentially fatal, due to the powerful nephrotoxic effects caused by their ingestion. Possessing an estimated LD50 of 0.03g/Kg [1,2]. This characteristic is well known in popular culture [7,8].
Clinical case / Treatment
Finally, to finish, it should be noted that the vesicant effect produced by specimens of this species in relation to its contact with people’s skin has also been verified. Thus, approximately ten hours after we accidentally sat down on a specimen of this species and without proceeding to wash the area in contact with the hemolymph that pierced all the garments until reaching the skin, the appearance of bladders was observed in it of significant magnitude accompanied by significant local pain. This effect is probably the one that should be sought in the treatment with animals, since prolonged contact probably produces an effect similar to that of cauterization, it is capable of piercing clothing and causing serious injury in the contact area (Figures 4-7).
MVZ Enrique Gonzaga, was cutting corn fodder, to feed his cows, it was 12 o’clock one morning, he was wearing a shortsleeved shirt, suddenly he observed that a black worm deposited on his arm, under the elbow joint a red liquid. He did not care, because he had seen that he did not bury any stinger. The signs and injuries are as follows.
a) If you encounter them, do not touch them directly with
b) If you go to the field, wear a hat and a thick long-sleeved shirt.
c) Do not walk barefoot.
d) Mow the grass near the house-room.
e) Be careful when cutting wildflowers, because the larvae may be in them.
- Bergillos F, RivaSMA (2013) Animal Stings and Bites: Treatise on Clinical Toxinology. In Bergillos F, RivaSMA (Eds.), Bubok Publishing SL, UK I: 978-84-686-3692-4.
- Bologna MA (1988) Berberomeloe, a new west Mediterranean genus of Lyttini for MeloemajalisLineé (Coleoptera, Meloidae). Systematics and bionomics. Italian Journal of Zoology 55(1-4): 359-366.
- Cortés Fossati, Fernando, Cervera Currado, Juan Lucas (2018) Berberomeloe majalis (Linnaeus, 1758), one of the largest beetles in Europe present in the Campo de Gibraltar. Contribution to its ethology, distribution and traditional uses in the province of Cá Almoraima. Magazine of Campogibraltareños Studies, 49 Algeciras. Instituto de Estudios Campogibraltareños 49: 47-54.
- Culma M, Yolieth N (2017) Evaluation and Effects of Pesticides on Bees: Current Situation and Regulations in Colombia (Doctoral dissertation).
- García París MJL, Ruiz (2008) Berberomeloe insignis (Charpentier, 1818). In Barea Azcón JM, Ballesteros Duperón E, Moreno D (Eds.), Red Book of the Invertebrates of Andalusia. Ministry of Environment. Junta de Andalucí Seville 4: 1020-1029.
- García Paris M, Ruiz LJ, Percino DN, Buckley D (2016) Common names of the oil-fleshed and oil-filled (coleoptera: meloidae) of Spain: circumstances compel. (SEA) 58: 245-252.
- Ghoneim K(2013) Cantharidin toxicosis to animal and human in the World: A review. Standard Research Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health Sciences 1(1): 1-16.
- Percino Daniel N, D Buckley, M García París (2013) Pharmacological properties of blister beetles (Coleoptera: Meloidae) promoted their integration into the cultural heritage of native rural Spain as inferred by vernacular names diversity, traditions, and mitochondrial DNA. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 147(3): 570-583.