(Linne) De Geer.
The dried beetles, containing .6 p. c. of cantharidin.
Habitat. S. and C. Europe, W. Asia - Spain, Italy, Sicily, S. France, Hungary, S. Russia.
Syn. Canthar., Spanish Flies (Fly), Russian Flies, Blister Beetle, Muscae Hispanicae, Lytta vesicatoria; Fr. Cantharide; Ger. Cantharides, Spanische Fliegen, Canthariden, Kanthariden.
Can'tha-ris. L. d1. cantharides. a beetle, fr. Gr.
a beetle, Spanish fly
- i. e., the classic name.
Ves-i-ca-to'ri-a. L. vesica, a blister, of or belonging to or capable of blistering.
Insect. - About 15-25 Mm. (3/5-1') long, 5-8 Mm. (1/5-1/3') broad, oblong, compressed above, brilliant green, bluish-green, metallic lustre, golden-green beneath; head triangular, mandibles stout, antennae filiform, of 11 conical joints, the upper black; eyes small, prothorax angular; legs with 5 tarsal joints; wings membranous, brownish, elytra (wing sheaths) with 2 parallel lines, finely wrinkled; odor strong, disagreeable; taste slight, acrid. Powder, grayish-brown; microscopically - shining green particles, many long, pointed, 1-celled hairs, .5 Mm. (1/50') long, .02 Mm. (1/1250') broad; must not be used when having ammoniacal odor. Should be kept in tightly-closed containers adding occasionally a few drops of chloroform or carbon tetrachloride to prevent insect attack. Solvents: alcohol; chloroform. Dose, gr. 1/6-1 (.01-.06 Gm.).
Adulterations. - Beetle: Other beetles easily recognizable, exhausted flies, beads, etc.; Powder: Ground euphorbium (gumresin), etc.; all detected by diminished yield of cantharidin and increased amount of ash, which should not exceed 8 p. c.
Commercial. - Females lay eggs in cylindrical holes in the ground, June, the larvae hatching a week later and depending upon flowers and the resources of the bee for a month, when they burrow in the ground to assume the chrysalis stage and to hatch as perfect beetles next spring. They swarm, May, June, upon trees and shrubs - ash, white poplar, privet, lilac, elder, honeysuckle (Oleaceae, Caprifoliaceae), feeding on the leaves, and, having a penetrating odor resembling that of mice, can easily be recognized at a distance. In the early morning, at sunrise, when insects are torpid from the coldness of night and release readily their attachment, persons masked and gloved shake and beat the trees with poles, collecting them in cloths previously spread underneath; they then are plunged into hot water or diluted vinegar, or exposed to vapors of either vinegar, chloroform, ether, oil of turpentine, ammonia, or carbon disulphide, and thus killed are spread out, dried by sun or ovens, and packed in boxes or casks for market. Russian flies supply the trade, entering commerce via Moscow, Hamburg, Petrograd (St. Petersburg), in barrels (best in paper-lined boxes), being copper-color, larger and more esteemed than those of S. Europe. All blistering beetles should be kept dry, in air-tight vessels, with a little camphor, chloroform, ether, oil of turpentine, benzene, or carbon disulphide, which protects against the ravages of mite larvae, etc.
Constituents. - Cantharidin, C10H12O4, .4-1 p. c, fat, inert oil (soluble in alcohol), yellow viscid matter (soluble in water and alcohol), volatile principle (giving the odor), yellow substance (soluble in ether, alcohol), black extractive, chlorophyll, phosphates of calcium, magnesium, formic, acetic and uric acids, moisture 10 p. c, ash 6-9 p. c. Cantharidin. - Obtained by exhausting with chloroform, evaporating spontaneously; crystals have fat and coloring matter adhering, which are removed by carbon disulphide. Occurs in colorless, odorless, tasteless prisms, soluble,in hot alcohol, ether, chloroform, fats, volatile oils, glacial acetic acid, sparingly in water, cold alcohol, sublimable, with alkalies yields cantharidates; cantharidin is the blistering principle and resides mostly in soft parts.
Fig. 436. - Cantharis vesicatoria.
V alunation. - Exhaust with chloroform containing some hydrochloric acid or acetic ether, evaporate, deprive of fat and color by carbon disulphide; should yield cantharidin .4-1 p. c.
Preparations. - 1. Ceratum Cantharidis. Cantharides Cerate.
(Syn., Cerat. Canthar., Blistering Cerate (Plaster), Br. Emplastrum
Cantharidini; Fr. Emplatre de Cantharides Mitigu'; Emplastrum
Vesicans; Ger. Emplastrum Cantharidum ordinarium (vesicatorium),
Manufacture: 35 p. c. Macerate in a well-covered container, in a warm place, cantharides 35 Gm., oil of turpentine 15 Ml. (Cc.) and glacial acetic acid 2.5 Ml. (Cc.), previously mixed, then add this to yellow wax 17.5 Gm., rosin 17.5 Gm., benzoinated lard 20 Gm., previously melted and strained; keep in liquid condition over water-bath, stirring occasionally, until reduced in weight to 100 Gm., withdraw heat, stir until firm.
Prep.: 1. Emplastrum Cantharidis. Cantharides Plaster. (Syn., Emp. Canthar., Cantharidal Pitch Plaster; Br. Emplastrum Calefaciens, Warming Plaster; Fr. Emplatre de Poix Can-tharide; Ger. Pechpflaster mit Canthariden.) Manufacture: Spread cantharides cerate upon rosin plaster previously spread on fabric - muslin, paper, etc., leaving a margin around the edges; each □ Cm. contains .1 Gm. of cantharides cerate; Br. contains cantharidin 1/50 p. c.
2. Tinctura Cantharidis. Tincture of Cantharides. (Syn., Tr. Canthar., Tincture of Spanish Flies; Fr. Teinture de Cantharides; Ger. Tinctura Cantharidum, Spanischfliegentinktur)
Manufacture: 10 p. c. Agitate thoroughly 10 Gm. with alcohol 100 Ml. (Cc.) in a strong tin can having a tightly fitting cork with small glass tube, keep on water-bath at 50-55° C. (122-131° F.) for 24 hours, frequently shaking, transfer to a percolator having in the neck a pledget of purified cotton, percolate, finishing with alcohol q. s. 100 Ml. (Cc). Dose, ej-20 (.06-1.3 Ml. (Cc.)).
3. Collodium Cantharidatum, 60 p. c
Unoff. Preps.: Liquor Epispasticus (Br.), cantharidin § p. c Un-(jucntum Cantharidini (Br.), cantharidin 1/33 p. c
Properties. - Diuretic, aphrodisiac, emmenagogue, rubefacient, vesicant, acrid poison. Blisters (blebs) are for stimulation, but may produce consitutional symptoms, and if allowed to remain on long depress according to amount of serum discharged, which contains equal quantities of albumin and blood. Absorbed rapidly into the blood and eliminated by the kidneys with marked irritation. Locally causes in 2-3 hours tingling, burning pain, vascular dilatation, and reflexly dilates deep-seated bloodvessels.
Uses. - Hectic fever, dropsy, bronchitis, skin diseases, bladder weakness, gleet, vesical catarrh, diabetes, amenorrhoea, seminal emissions, gonorrhoea, menorrhagia; externally - blisters stimulate the whole or part of the system, prevent accumulation of inflammatory exudations, recall suppressed discharges, are depletory, and thus relieve internal congestions. Applied for ulcers, fistulae, psoriasis, lupus, erysipelas, boils, alopecia, brain congestion and dropsy, hemorrhage, hydrocele, pleurisy, gleet (under the penis), leucorrhoea (sacrum), dysmenorrhoea, buboes, abscesses, typhus, typhoid fever, apoplectic condition, inflamed eyes (back of ears), pneumonia, pericarditis, phlebitis, bowel fluxes, rheumatism, neuralgia, spinal irritation, convulsions, tetanus, meningitis, wasting away of muscles, vomiting. Blisters should remain on 4-8 hours, or until skin vesicated, which is aided by previously washing the affected part with soap and applying vinegar. If the spot is to be healed at once, cut off cuticle, absorb serum, which is clear, apply pledget of borated cotton and bandage; if the sore is to be prolonged, remove cuticle, apply simple cerate for one day, then basilicon ointment until discharge is purulent, after which continue as long as desired with savin or mezereum ointments. In young persons intractable sores are produced easily by blisters, and in old persons gangrene, hence they should be applied to both with moderation; when such conditions have been produced Goulard's cerate is valuable. Strangury may be avoided by sprinkling plaster with spirit or powdered camphor, sodium bicarbonate, or even powdered cantharides. The tincture is the internal preparation, and the one used in hair lotions.
Fig. 437. - Cantharis vittata.
Fig. 438. - Mylabris cichorii.
Poisoning: Have violent gastro-enteritis, abdominal tenderness, burning in pharynx and oesophagus, burning pain in back, bladder, and urethra, constriction of throat, great desire to urinate, but urine scanty, mixed with blood and albumin, and passed with pain, vomiting, bloody stools, depression preceded by increased heart force and rapidity, strangury, swollen genitals, increased sexual desire, abortion, convulsions, coma, death. Give vegetable emetics, mucilaginous drinks freely - barley water, flaxseed tea, but not oils or oily emulsions, as these favor solubility and absorption of cantharidin; stimulants (brandy, ammonia, strychnine, atropine), warm baths, and cataplasms to abdomen, opium by mouth, and enema (for pain and gastro-enteritis).
1. Cantharis vitta'ta, Potato Fly; official 1820-1860; United States. Smaller than C. vesicatoria, but the two resemble; thorax and wing-cases black, the latter with yellow margin and middle stripe, making 3 yellow bands, head light red with dark spots on top, abdomen and legs covered with cinereous down 12 Mm. (1/2') long. This beetle inhabits Irish (white) potato vines, July-Aug., morning and evening, biding in the soil during hot hours of the day. Collect by shaking into boiling water; contains cantharidin 1.3 p. c. Used as vesicant like the official. C. cine'rea (American; black, closely punctured, covered with ash-gray hairs); C. margina'ta (elytra black, margin ash-colored), C. atra'ta (black, 8 Mm. (1/3') long), and C. Nuttal'li, (Kansas, California; resembles official); wing-cases golden-purple striped with green. 2. Myl'abris cicho'rii, and M. phalera'ta, Chinese Blistering Flies. - S. and E. Asia. Black wing-cases with 2 orange-yellow bands, and at base 2 yellow spots; powder, blackish-gray, with no glossy-green particles; contains 1-1.7 p. c. cantharidin. Our Pharmacopoeia recognizes only 2 insects, cantharis and coccus, while a few countries accept some others: 1, Formi'ca ru'fa, Red Ant. Used in Germany in spirit and tincture (Tinctura Formicarum - 2 parts + alcohol 3) for rheumatism, gout, paralytic affections. Dose, exv-30 (1-2 Ml. (Cc.)); 2, Blat'ta orienta'lis, Cockroach. Asia. Blackish, 2.5 Cm. (1') long, broad, fiat, habits nocturnal; odor disagreeable. Oily decoction used for warts, ulcers, boils, scaly eruptions; internally for dyspnoea, dropsy, albuminuria, diuretic. Dose, gr. 4-5 (.3 Gm.), per die; 3, AE'nas a'fer. Spain. Has advantage over cantharides in being cheaper, equally powerful, acting without pain, and non-irritating to the urinary organs.