I’ve had several discussions with gardening folks in the region on one of our more annoying pests, the blister beetles. Big appetite, eats lots of things we value, and darned hard to get rid of. Someone invariable says “yep, they bite, too” and “be careful – you’ll get blistered.” However, I’ve yet to hear any first-hand experience with the personal-injury aspect of blister beetles.
I’ve suffered from the heartbreak of blister beetles for two summers in a row. They’ve eaten ALL the foliage from the fall-blooming Anemone (leaving flowers on a steeck), badly damaged our chard and lettuce, and have turned their attention to the sweet-autumn clematis (Clematis terniflora).
Perp: Epicauta funebris (Margined Blister Beetle) – chock full of Cantharidin, a caustic terpenoid.
With nothing left but a mountain of bare stems, skeletonized leaves, and the occasional flower, the clematis was not adding to the general aesthetics of our home garden (unlike the 7′ tall poke weeds -whoops). I began gingerly pulling the bazillion vines off the fence, but then thought of you (yes, you). So what if one bit me or did whatever it does to cause a blister? I could then speak authoritatively instead of “I heard…”
I went at the vines with gusto, gray and black beetles a-flying. Sure enough, I mushed one against my arm in gathering up the vines toss in the cart.
Ouch. First, a burning sensation. Success! Then I watched with fascination as a bunch of welts popped out, at which point I ran and got my camera. The discomfort persisted through a couple of hours and a glass of wine. But by bedtime, my blisters were gone. No scars remain.
So there you have it. Yet another example of the things Garden Professors do – so you don’t have to!