Spanish Fly

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Template:About Commonly found throughout southern Europe, parts of Central Asia and Siberia, the Spanish Fly (Lytta vesicatoria) is actually a beetle. They are signified by the secretion of Cantharidin, which is common among almost all male species of the blister beetle family (Meloidae).

The Spanish Fly, and some of its related species, were earlier used for the preparation of medicines by conventional apothecaries. Cantharidin, a toxic, defensive chemical found in the blister beetle, had been used for over a thousand years as a sexual stimulant. In concentrated amounts, the chemical causes severe blistering. It is potent enough to cause serious complications and is fatal above a certain dosage.

Description/Etymology

The Spanish Fly has a bright metallic, emerald-green body, which often appears as golden-green due to the phenomenon known as iridescence. In simple terms, iridescence is the property due to which the color of some surfaces appear to change gradually and is often found to naturally occur. Examples include butterfly wings and feathers of certain birds.

It has a soft body and usually grows up to 20 mm (0.79 inches) in length and 5 mm (0.20 inches) in width. Its scientific name is derived from Greek, with lytta meaning marital rage, insanity, Bacchic frenzy (refer to the Maenads - the mad, female followers of Dionysus, the Greek god of wine and fertility. Dionysus was known as Bacchus in Roman mythology) or rabies. The vesica is Latin for blisters.