Zonitis vittigera

Blister Beetle
Zonitis vittigera

Blister Beetle Zonitis vittigera on Black-eyed Susan. Wheatley, Ont. July 12, 2009.
Blister Beetle Zonitis vittigera on Black-eyed Susan. Wheatley, Ont. July 12, 2009.

Identification:
Head: Slightly shiny, triangular, reddish-orange. Eyes indented (emarginate) near antenna bases. Mandibles reddish-orange with black tips. Tongue (galae) almost as long as antenna. Whiskers (palpi) black, not considered long.
Antenna: Antenna black, long; reaching past base of wings (elytra). 11 segments, segment 2 short.
Thorax: Slightly shiny, squarish, reddish-orange. Slightly wider than head.
Wings (Elytra): Reddish-orange with a wide black stripe down each wing, sometimes very faint to absent. Wings cover entire abdomen. V-shaped area at center of base of wings (scutellum) orange-red, puffy or inflated.

Blister Beetle Zonitis vittigera on Black-eyed Susan. Wheatley, Ont. June 29, 2012.
Blister Beetle Zonitis vittigera on Black-eyed Susan. Wheatley, Ont. June 29, 2012.

Legs: Thighs (femora) reddish-orange with black tips. Rest of legs black.
Abdomen: Entirely reddish-orange, shiny, hairy. Tip with tuft of dark yellowish hair.

Similar Species: Only one other Zonitis in Ontario, Z. bilineata has whitish-tan wings (elytra) with or without dark stripe and yellow feet.

Size: 8 to 11 mm.

Habitat: Meadows, forest edges.

Blister Beetle Zonitis vittigera light colour form on Black-eyed Susan. Wheatley, Ont. June 27, 2014.
Blister Beetle Zonitis vittigera light colour form on Black-eyed Susan. Wheatley, Ont. June 27, 2014.

Food: Adults feed on flower nectar, prefers Black-eyed Susan Rudbeckia hirta. Also other flowers in the Aster family like Goldenrod Solidago and Sunflowers Helianthus.

Flight Time: Late June to early August.

Life Cycle: Eggs are laid on flowers. When larvae hatch, they attach themselves to bees, eventually taken back to the nest where they feed on the stored food for the bee larvae. The beetle larvae overwinter, and pupate the next summer.

Blister Beetle Zonitis vittigera both colour forms on Black-eyed Susan. Wheatley, Ont. June 27, 2014.
Blister Beetle Zonitis vittigera both colour forms on Black-eyed Susan. Wheatley, Ont. June 27, 2014.

Comments: Although not common, but present from south-western Ontario to Toronto (BugGuide), this beetle is not listed for Ontario. It was recorded in 1944 by Hicks at Ojibway Prairies, Windsor, and considered the first record for all of Canada, but has never been recognized. Ojibway does list Zonitis bilineata. Photographed in Wheatley, Ontario since 2009, always on Black-eyed Susan.

Blister Beetle Zonitis vittigera both colour forms courtship (male front) on Black-eyed Susan. Wheatley, Ont. June 27, 2014.
Blister Beetle Zonitis vittigera both colour forms courtship (male front) on Black-eyed Susan. Wheatley, Ont. June 27, 2014.

For information on synonyms, references and type specimens see next page

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