Care for Meloe sp. oil beetles?

chanda

Arachnoking
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Jun 27, 2010
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I was out hiking today and found my first oil beetle - yay!!!

The next question, though, is how do I take care of it? Ideally, I would like to keep it alive (though if I fail to do so, it will at least be an interesting addition to my dead bug collection.)

Has anybody ever kept these in captivity? So far, I've temporarily put it in a small Critter Keeper with moist sand/dirt and the clump of grass it was sitting next to when I found it. That's a pretty close approximation of where I found it, but I still need to figure out what to feed it. Failing all else, I'll offer an assortment of local leaves/flowers until I find something it likes - but I'd love suggestions from anyone who has experience with these!

Thanks!
 

Hisserdude

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I believe the adults feed on necter and are rather short lived, and the larvae are usually parasites on either grasshoppers or various Hymenopterans, (so breeding is pretty much completely out of the question).
 

chanda

Arachnoking
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I believe the adults feed on necter and are rather short lived, and the larvae are usually parasites on either grasshoppers or various Hymenopterans, (so breeding is pretty much completely out of the question).
Yeah, Meloe larvae are parasitic on solitary bees, so it would be very difficult to raise them. It might be possible to raise the larvae on honey and pollen (I could get them from a local beekeeper) since that's primarily what they eat anyway. In the unlikely event that I end up with eggs/triungulins, I'll at least give it a try.

Like I said, even if the adult beetle proves short-lived, she'll at least be an interesting addition to my collection. I like to have a variety of dead bugs to show my students, both so they can see some of the diverse species that I can't get or keep as live specimens and so the kids can take a close-up look through a magnifier at their anatomy - which is a little tricky if the bug in question is still alive and moving around. I don't use a kill jar - all of my preserved bugs have died of more-or-less natural causes - but when I find something really cool, I will sometimes collect it with the long-term goal of adding it to my collection, though I will try to take care of it as best I can in the meantime.
 

Hisserdude

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Yeah, Meloe larvae are parasitic on solitary bees, so it would be very difficult to raise them. It might be possible to raise the larvae on honey and pollen (I could get them from a local beekeeper) since that's primarily what they eat anyway. In the unlikely event that I end up with eggs/triungulins, I'll at least give it a try.

Like I said, even if the adult beetle proves short-lived, she'll at least be an interesting addition to my collection. I like to have a variety of dead bugs to show my students, both so they can see some of the diverse species that I can't get or keep as live specimens and so the kids can take a close-up look through a magnifier at their anatomy - which is a little tricky if the bug in question is still alive and moving around. I don't use a kill jar - all of my preserved bugs have died of more-or-less natural causes - but when I find something really cool, I will sometimes collect it with the long-term goal of adding it to my collection, though I will try to take care of it as best I can in the meantime.
Well I wish you luck on keeping your Meloe, they are really interesting little buggers, if only they could be a little easier to breed in captivity!
 

Ranitomeya

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Oct 11, 2012
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Be careful when handling Meloidae. Do not to get any of the fluid it produces near anyone's eyes. Oil beetles are also known as blister beetles because of the cantharidin they produce. On skin it causes blisters that are not immediately problematic, but it can be medically significant in more sensitive areas or if the affected area becomes infected.
 

BeetleExperienc

Arachnoknight
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Sep 18, 2005
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I kept some for a while on beetle jelly. Only seem to come out in the very-early Spring here, then I don't see them the rest of the year.
 

Jacob Ma

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Feb 2, 2016
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281
Be careful when handling Meloidae. Do not to get any of the fluid it produces near anyone's eyes. Oil beetles are also known as blister beetles because of the cantharidin they produce. On skin it causes blisters that are not immediately problematic, but it can be medically significant in more sensitive areas or if the affected area becomes infected.
I found some mashed individuals on a trail in the Appalachians one time, and I almost completely forgot that they carried noxious fluids with them. Unfortunately for me as well, I had a case of dry skin so the fluids released by the dead individuals created some rashes in the areas of exposed skin.
 

Salmonsaladsandwich

Arachnobaron
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Jul 28, 2016
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Meloe aren't one of those insects that lives a matter of days and eats nothing but nectar. They're actually hungry foliage feeders. Back in September I stumbled on a group of about 2 dozen oil beetles chewing away at ginseng plants. Around a week and a half later, they were still there and the whole patch had been stripped of its leaves.
 
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