Subject: Black beetle
Geographic location of the bug: Southwest New Mexico
Time: 11:03 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: We found these insects while hiking in the Gila National Forest, Saddle Rock Canyon; 10 miles NW of Silver City. There were hundreds of them on the desert willows – many were mating on the trees. I apologize for the fuzzy image. I hope it’s clear enough for an identification.
How you want your letter signed: Karen Nakakihara
This is a Black Blister Beetle, Epicauta pensylvanica, and like many Blister Beetles, they appear seasonally in great numbers for a short period of time each year, with some years seeing far greater numbers. According to BugGuide: “Associated with Asteraceae, such as goldenrods and asters. May damage crops, such as beets, potatoes, tomatoes.” The Black Blister Beetle is pictured on the New Mexico State University website.