The CMR Blister Beetle is a large (4cm long) and colourfully-marked beetle in the family Meloidae, notorious for excreting the toxin cantharidin in defence against predators – this can cause blisters when making contact with skin and can even be fatal if ingested, both to humans and livestock.
After mating, the female lays her eggs in the ground. After hatching the larvae of the CMR Blister Beetle feeds on grasshopper eggs (including those of plague-causing locusts), while the adults feed on flowers and, often congregating in large numbers on flowering plants, are considered a pest in gardens and orchards. They are slow-flying insects. Adults are most often seen between late spring and early autumn. CMR Blister Beetles have very few specific habitat requirements and occur in almost every corner of South Africa.
The “CMR” acronym in this blister beetle’s name comes from the Cape Mounted Rifles, a military unit from South Africa’s colonial past whose colours resembled this beetle’s. In turn, the CMR Blister Beetle then became part of the Cape Mounted Rifles’ insignia.