The Spanish fly isn’t really a fly per se, it’s more of a beetle which secretes a chemical hormone that is thought to work as a libido enhancer for women and men.
The emerald green beetle is the source of the terpenoid cantharidin, a toxic blistering agent once used as an aphrodisiac.
However, if your idea of getting turned on includes feeling unwell – sometimes to the point of death – then you can ingest cantharidin. Medical reports of patients who have had cantharidin poisoning include symptoms such as burning of the mouth, dysphagia (difficulty in swallowing food), nausea, vomiting and/or peeing blood, and difficulty expelling urine.
If you ever come across the Spanish fly, you should try your best to avoid touching it, as it may leak cantharidin right out of its leg joints, which might cause your skin to skin bubble up into nasty yellow blisters.
There are a number of ‘love potions’ that are named after the insect; of which it is believed that a few drops of Spanish fly is supposed to get women in the mood for loving, and men stronger erections.
Sadly most of these products contain little more than water, sugar, and empty promises. Even those that claim to be “original” are made of ingredients found in most other products marketed as natural or herbal aphrodisiacs, such as ginseng and gingko biloba.
Given the availability of Spanish fly in certain markets, its reputation as an aphrodisiac, and the fact that ingestion is frequently unwitting, cantharidin poisoning may be a more common cause of morbidity than is generally recognised.
It also gained notoriety as a date rape drug, which even Bill Cosby used as material for his show once.
Basically it’s a potentially dangerous substance if ingested or enters your body, and products bearing the name are most likely a farce rather than something to help boost libido. Also, ensure to obtain consent of your partner before having them ingest any libido enhancer – it’s the right thing to do!