CMR Beetles

CMR Beetles

Mylabris oculata

Affected Plants:

Cannas, Roses, Hibiscus, Bougainvillea, Cycads, Palm trees

Damage Type:


Physical Characteristics:

Brightly colored (often yellow and black); elongated, oval body; prominent antennae.

Control Method:

Mercaptothion, Fenitrothion, Gamma BHC

Environmental Impact:

High, especially Gamma BHC

Organic/Natural Control:

Handpicking, neem oil

About this pest

CMR Beetles: Blistering Beauties in South African Gardens

CMR beetles, with their striking black and yellow stripes, might initially charm you with their bold aesthetic. However, hidden beneath their captivating colours lies a potent defence mechanism that earns them the nickname “blister beetle.” Let’s explore their world to understand the fascinating duality of beauty and bite:

Physical Characteristics:

  • Size: Around 30mm long, making them quite noticeable.
  • Color: Conspicuous black and yellow bands or spots, resembling the uniforms of the Cape Mounted Rifles in colonial South Africa.
  • Body: Elongated and slightly flattened, with prominent antennae and bright orange antennae.
  • Distinguishing Feature: Cantharidin, a potent chemical secreted in their body fluids, causes blistering to the skin upon contact.

Common South African Names:

  • CMR kewers (Afrikaans)
  • Geelband kewers (Afrikaans) – Yellow-banded beetle
  • Blaarblaas kewers (Afrikaans) – Blister beetle
  • Kaap se Rugbys (Afrikaans) – Cape Mounted Rifles (playful reference)

Why are CMR Beetles a Pest?

  • Flower feeders: Adults feast on petals and pollen, potentially damaging ornamental plants and reducing fruit production.
  • Grasshopper hunters: Larvae of some species prey on grasshopper eggs, which could be considered beneficial in some contexts.
  • Blistering threat: Contact with CMR beetles, even accidental brushing, can cause painful blisters and skin irritation due to the cantharidin.

Combatting CMR Beetles:

  • Physical barriers: Netting over valuable plants or using row covers can deter adults.
  • Handpicking: If wearing gloves, carefully remove CMR beetles and dispose of them safely.
  • Insecticidal soap spray: Can kill adults on contact, but reapplication might be needed.
  • Natural predators: Encourage insect-eating birds and lizards to help control populations.
  • Chemical control: Use insecticides registered for CMR beetle control with caution due to potential environmental and skin irritation risks.


  • CMR beetles are both beautiful and potentially harmful. Treat them with caution and respect their blistering power.
  • Prioritize natural and organic methods whenever possible to protect yourself, other beneficial insects, and the environment.
  • Be mindful of handling CMR beetles with appropriate protection to avoid unwanted skin reactions.

By understanding the CMR beetle and taking necessary precautions, you can appreciate their visual appeal while keeping them at bay to ensure a safe and pest-free space in your South African garden.

1 Vendor

Pest Control Chemicals / Pesticides



*All purchases are redirected to external companies websites

0 Traders