THE LYTTA MAGISTER BEETLE LOOKS COOK, BUT WILL GIVE YOU PAINFUL BLISTERS IF YOU PICK ONE UP
Kids these days, and all days forever, really, pick up bugs in the wild. I certainly did, and occasionally shudder at the things I used to think were fascinating to have in my hands. I remember a jar packed full of living caterpillars I had something to do with one summer that now gives me the creeps. But kids pick up all sorts of things, which it totally natural discovery. But if they’re in the Southwest United States or in northern Sonora, Mexico, there’s at least one bug they should avoid, the Lytta Magister beetle. It looks pretty darn cool, that’s for sure. But if you pick one up, it will leave your hands covered in painful blisters.
THE LYTTA MAGISTER BEETLE WILL BLEED ON YOU, AND THEIR BLOOD IS CAUSTIC BEYOND BELIEF
And no, it’s not a joke. Lots of insects have natural defenses. I remember some grasshoppers emitting a foul smelling liquid on my hands that I simply shrugged off and kept catching them. But the Lytta Magister beetle, aka the “master blister beetle,” takes their natural defenses to another level entirely. They can pop a blood vessel in the joint of their legs. This allows their yellowish blood to flow out and onto your hands. The beetles only do this when they’re upset about something. Say, like when a child thinks they’re cool looking and picks them up.
THE BLOOD SMELLS BAD, BUT THE BLISTERS WILL MAKE YOU REMEMBER NEVER TO TOUCH ONE AGAIN
Their blood is yellow and icky looking. And it smells pretty nasty, too. But even nastier, as soon as it comes in contact with your skin, it burns like acid and causes painful, raised blisters wherever it touches. The Lytta Magister beetle seriously doesn’t mess around when it comes to its natural defense mechanisms. I’m grateful I didn’t grow up in the Southwest, that’s for sure. Because these guys tend to grow up to several inches long and can hang out together in the dozens. I would surely have learned the hard way.