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Do Beetles Bite?

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Do Beetles Bite?

Beetles are one the most populous creatures in the world and make up about 25% of all known animal life forms. With that in mind, it seems like a good thing to know if beetles pose any threat to humans. 

Beetles are not recognized as harmful to humans. They do not spread diseases and most species do not cause damage to property. Beetles do have the ability to bite, as they have mandibles meant for biting and chewing. Most species do not bite or possess evolved stingers. There are a few species of beetles, however, that are known to bite humans on occasion. These bites, while not deadly, can cause extreme pain and even blistering.

What Types of Beetles Bite?

Long-Horned Beetles

Long-horned beetles are one kind of beetle known to bite. There are 20,000 species of long-horned beetles globally. These beetles can grow to be over 1/2 an inch long when they’ve reached adulthood and characteristically have lengthy antennae that are 3 times longer than their bodies. Long-horned beetles are known to periodically bite humans and their bite can cause swelling and acute pain for up to 48 hours, but is not fatal. 

Stag Beetles

These beetles are large beetles with giant mandibles. Male stag beetles use their oversized jaws to fight other male stag beetles; however, their jaws are too weak to pierce human skin. Female stag beetles, on the other hand, have smaller, more powerful jaws that are able to cause painful bites on humans.

Can Beetles Harm Without Biting?

Blister Beetles

Blister beetles do not have stingers and their jaws are not strong enough to break human skin, however, they can still cause humans a lot of pain. Blister beetles cause welts and blisters on human skin as a result of contact with the beetle. This beetle releases an odorless, colorless chemical called cantharidin to protect itself. Direct contact with this chemical results in a local reaction that presents as a welt (raised, red patch of skin) or a blister (a pocket of fluid and pus). These welts or blisters can develop on any skin that has been exposed to the beetle and will appear within 24 to 48 hours after contact, and should improve within a week.

African Bombardier Beetles

African bombardier beetles can also inflict pain without a bite. These beetles release liquid from their abdomen that feels like boiling hot liquid. While non-toxic to humans, this liquid can irritate and burn the skin, mimicking a bite or sting.

While it’s not too common to be bitten by a beetle, it is possible.  The primary concern would be if the bitten had an unknown allergy.  Beetle infestations are largely more harmful to the wood in your home than the skin on your body. If gone unchecked they can cause damage leading to thousands of dollars of home repair. 

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The creator of this review received compensation by RMICPA, LLC on behalf of Terminix®. This review is the opinion of its creator and its claims are not endorsed or evaluated by RMICPA, LLC.

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