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Plural of cantharis.


A poisonous, blistering preparation made from the powdered, dried bodies of the beetle Cantharis vesicatoria . Cantharides has been used criminally as an aphrodisiac with grave consequences. Also known as ‘Spanish fly’.

cantharides (kan·thärˑ··dēzˈ),

n the dried body of
Lytta vesicatoria, a blister beetle that belongs to genus
Lytta; active principle in cantharides is cantharidin, used as an aphrodisiac, diuretic, and rubifacient.


substance obtained from dried beetles (Cantharis vesicatoria) and used topically as a counterirritant. African cattle have been poisoned by drinking water contaminated by flies. They show excitement, diarrhea and nephritis. Called also blistering beetle, Spanish fly.