Lytta vulnerata cooperi

Lytta vulnerata cooperi | Idaho Falls, Idaho

I had other quarry on my mind when I visited Idaho a couple of weeks ago, but I couldn’t help but pay attention to this blister beetle (family Meloidae) feeding on rabbit brush flowers for the following two reasons: 1) its spectacular and boldly contrasting black and orange coloration, and 2) my collecting partner, Jeff Huether, is an expert on North American Meloidae. My identification of this individual as Lytta vulnerata is based strictly on one line of evidence: Jeff said that’s what it is!  My further identification as the subspecies L. vulnerata cooperi is more tenuous, being based on the distinctly sculptured elytra, immaculate pronotum, and more northerly location (nominotypical individuals, at least from what I can tell looking at photos assigned to the two subspecies, have the elytra indistinctly sculptured, generally exhibit a median line or vitta on the pronotum, and occur further south).

Note distinct elytral sculpturing and immaculate pronotum

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2011

About Ted C. MacRae

Ted C. MacRae is a research entomologist by vocation and beetle taxonomist by avocation. Areas of expertise in the latter include worldwide jewel beetles (Buprestidae) and North American longhorned beetles (Cerambycidae). More recent work has focused on North American tiger beetles (Cicindelidae) and their distribution, ecology, and conservation.
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6 Responses to Lytta vulnerata cooperi

  1. randomtruth says:

    Nice. We just saw that Lytta a week ago out near the Carrizo Plain munching Isocoma. Of course, your photos are much, much better than mine. Have you seen the even bigger and bolder Lytta magister out in the Mojave in spring?

  2. Scott says:

    Great photos and your lighting on these is excellent. I especially like how you caught the detail in the wings.

    • Thanks Scott. I do appreciate the comment, but I wasn’t quite so happy with these photos. I disturbed the beetle before I got the camera setup, and it just wouldn’t stop crawling. There was also a bit of wind, so I couldn’t quite nail the focus with all the movement. I did better with one other shot but got the composition cropped a little too tightly for me to want to show it here. I know… picky, picky!

  3. James C. Trager says:

    Is it true that this beautiful beastie is in the same genus as the “Spanish fly”? Or was that an error/old name in my little photo insect guide I bought in Spain several years ago? They seem quite distinct to me.

    • Yes, same genus (and I don’t know why I didn’t think to mention that fact). Like some other large, super-diverse beetle genera its members can often appear quite different.

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