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Spanish fly; Cantárida

Lytta vesicatoria


Slender metallic emerald-green beetle in the family Meloidae, Coleoptera, ca. 20 mm. long. Spanish fly and cantharides refer to dried insects of this species, and related preparations used for supposed aphrodisiac effects. Poisonous when taken internally at large doses can be deathly. The perceived aphrodisiac properties of L. vesicatoria and its dried cantharides preparations are a result of its toxicology, specifically, irritant effects it has upon the body's genitourinary tract. Preparations from L. vesicatoria and other species have been the sources from which a chemical compound called cantharidin has been isolated, which is largely responsible for the pharmacologic activities described. It is believed that king Fernando "the catholic" died due to excessive intake of Spanish fly when trying to get a heir for the Aragon crown


Spotted at a clearing in a pine tree forest. Sierra de Guadarrama


Camera Model: NIKON D300. Exposure Time: 1/400 sec.; f/11; ISO Speed Rating: 200. Exposure Bias: 0 EV. Focal Length: 90.0 mm. No flash fired

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arlanda 3 years ago

Thanks Mark, It is also a puzzle to me why it is called a fly. Apparently it has been used since very old times, it is believed that king Fernando "the catholic" died due to excessive intake of Spanish fly when trying to get a heir for the Aragon crown

arlanda 3 years ago

Thanks a lot Ashley, it is a great honor to be nominated

Mark Ridgway
Mark Ridgway 3 years ago

Fascinating notes Angel. I still wonder why 'fly' and not Spanish beetle.

AshleyT 3 years ago

Your spotting has been nominated for the Spotting of the Week. The winner will be chosen by the Project Noah Rangers based on a combination of factors including: uniqueness of the shot, status of the organism (for example, rare or endangered), quality of the information provided in the habitat and description sections. There is a subjective element, of course; the spotting with the highest number of Ranger votes is chosen. Congratulations on being nominated!

Spotted by

Comunidad de Madrid, Spain

Spotted on Jun 5, 2016
Submitted on Jan 23, 2017

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