The oil beetles, only a few centimeters long and shiny blue-black, look interesting. But the following applies to them: only look, never touch. The German Wildlife Foundation points this out urgently.
A school in Schleswig-Holstein has now even blocked parts of its playground. Because numerous oil beetles are currently crawling over the schoolyard in Altenholz (Rendsburg-Eckernförde district). What you need to know about the little animals.
How do I recognize an oil beetle?
Striking is the violet or black-blue color. The oil beetles can also be recognized by their small, cross-oval head and long abdomen. The insects become round one to five inches long and despite their length have a stocky build, he writes Nature Conservation Union (Nabu).
The flightless beetles’ elytra cover only a small portion of their abdomen, allowing it to be seen freely. Hindwings are completely absent. The females are usually a little larger than the males, they have a clearly swollen rear body under the short elytra. The feelers of the male animals, on the other hand, are stronger and have a noticeable kink.
Where does the oil beetle appear?
Oil beetles often appear on beaches in Germany, so come on North and east Sea on. Because the species lives in sandy and open places with numerous bee nests. So it also occurs in extensively agriculturally used locations such as Heaths, dry grassland and meadow orchards before. May is the high season for it – it is therefore also called “Mayworm”.
Why is the oil beetle dangerous?
The oil beetle forms a poison on its legs that protects it from predators. When threatened, they can release this yellowish liquid from pores on their leg joints. This is strongly reminiscent of oil droplets and gave the beetles their name. The main active ingredient is cantharidin, which protects the beetles from ants and ground beetles in particular.
In humans, it irritates the skin, causing it to become red and blistered. If an oil beetle is even swallowed, people can even die from it. Even a single beetle contains a lethal dose of cantharidin.
However, experts give the all-clear for pet owners: the drops of poison that the oil beetle lets out smell so unpleasant that every dog is deterred, Claus Wurst, specialist officer for beetles at NABU Baden-Württemberg, told T-Online. He then immediately looks for the distance. The same applies to cats.
What do I have to do if I come into contact with the oil beetle?
Anyone who has come into contact with the insect should wash their hands thoroughly and then cool the affected area. If an animal is swallowed, do not induce vomiting, but call your local poison control center immediately.