Meloe, an explorer of possiblities

The story of a larva trying new things.


Picture yourself sitting at the bottom of a flower. The air is warm, and the sun is shining. Oh, also, you are a beetle larva, several Millions of years ago.

[meadow soundscape fades in]

Hi and welcome to the Insect Insights, chill insect stories to relax and wonder, available wherever podcasts are. If you like this podcast, you can subscribe, leave a review and even an insect question. I am Max, your host, and I hope you are ready to dive into insect knowledge for another insight!

In some time, you might turn into a beautiful blister beetle, but for now, you are just a small larva, and whether or not you reach this glorious future depends a lot on if you are able to find a place to develop. This is far from being assured, many of your siblings will not make it. The fact that you mostly rely on randomly stumbling upon resources might have something to do with it.

You have now climbed to the summit of a flower. A loud buzzing approaches, and a shadow covers you. As a flying behemoth lands on the flower to gather some of its pollen, you take the opportunity to hop on, and hitch a ride.

Now on the back of this bee, you will soon have reached its hive. There you can live as parasite, eating their honey and maybe even their young! All you need to achieve your potential…

Unknowingly, you are also treading on a much longer path, one across time, the one of the evolution of your kin. Recently, your ancestors have started to favour using bees as transport back to their hives. By being successful in using this method, and maybe by being one of the individuals ever so slightly more adapted to this as well, you contribute to the slow adaptation of your species to phoresy, the use of another animal for transport.

In some more millions on years, larvae like you will have a morphology more adapted to this short ride on the back of these huge flying insects. Strong limbs, mandibles and spikes to attach yourself sturdily to the back of your taxi. But this evolutionary path is far from a linear one! Your lineage radiates strongly, probably boosted by the progressive unlocking of this ecological niche.

And what a puzzle it leaves for future hairless apes wanting to understand how your kin ended up looking like they do!


Bologna, M.A. et al. (2008) ‘Phylogeny and evolutionary history of the blister beetles (Coleoptera, Meloidae)’, Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 48(2), pp. 679–693. Available at:

Bologna, M.A. and Pinto, J.D. (2001) ‘Phylogenetic studies of Meloidae (Coleoptera), with emphasis on the evolution of phoresy’, Systematic Entomology, 26(1), pp. 33–72. Available at:

Giulio, A.D. et al. (2014) ‘Morphology of a new blister beetle (Coleoptera, Meloidae) larval type challenges the evolutionary trends of phoresy-related characters in the genus Meloe’, Entomologia, 2(2). Available at: