Woman bitten by blister beetle: It was “gross”

Dr. Joanna Woods, of Phoenix, showing reporter on May 10, 2018 blisters she got from bites by blister beetle


PHOENIX — Dr. Joanna Woods says thought she’d been bitten by a bedbug or mosquito, but the Phoenix mom soon realized it was something much worse. “It was just so much pain that I couldn’t get through the cloud of pain,” Woods told CBS Phoenix affiliate KPHO-TV.

“It was excruciating,” she said. “I could liken it to childbirth. When they ask you if the pain was between one and 10, there were times it was 10.”

Woods appears to have had an encounter with a blister beetle, which has the ability to release a dangerous toxin when it comes in contact with human skin.

The poisonous chemical causes swelling and blistering of the skin and can be fatal if ingested by children.

“My first thought is — gross — they’re really ugly and gross,” said Woods. “The idea of the whole concept of a blister beetle is really disgusting.”

Woods is convinced her uncomfortable encounter with the blister beetle took place at a movie theater a few nights ago when her arm started to itch.

A few hours later, the arm was red and swollen and getting worse.

Emanuel Jara, of Responsible Pest Control, said blister beetles have been in Arizona for years and usually leave people alone.

“It is their season right now,” said Jara. “You can find them in parks, in bushes and your very own backyard. A lot of times people, when they are doing gardening, they’ll encounter them, so it’s just about being very cautious.”

Fortunately for Woods, the medication she’s taking has reduced the swelling and her arm is getting better.

She only wishes the bug could have bugged someone else.

“I know bugs like me, and I know I have a reaction to bugs, but this is just weird,” said Woods. “I don’t wish this on anybody.”


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