The Iron Cross Blister Beetle warns with color

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The Iron Cross Blister Beetle may look pretty, but it has a nasty reputation. Anza Valley Outlook/Diane Sieker photo
The Iron Cross Blister Beetle is not a character that has the best reputation. Despite a colorful and festive appearance, this beetle is actually warning of its nasty nature with the very hues that make it so interesting. Tegrodera aloga, commonly called the Iron Cross Blister Beetle, is part of a family of insects that uses chemicals as a defense against predators. It is dangerous to touch and poisonous to eat, making it hazardous to people, pets and livestock. The beetle’s coloration advertises the fact that it carries potent cantharidin toxins that can interfere with the vertebrate nervous system. It is a warning that needs to be taken seriously. The pretty colors - vibrant yellow, black and red - act as a visual alert not to touch. The insects’ toxin is secreted from
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