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Saw it mentioned in the shoutbox this a.m. (dead horses from eating hay containing blister beetles) and found the story here http://www.kmbc.com/news/ag-officials-6-horses-died-after-eating-hay-containing-beetles/35372154

Same story here but click on the pictures to the left and there's one with a photo of dead blister beetles found in hayhttp://www.rockymounttelegram.com/news/contaminated-hay-leads-horse-deaths-2985637

We are located in west central Illinois and I used to think that blister beetles couldn't tolerate our harsh winters but I researched them and learned that they can be found in almost all of the continental states. I do believe there is a greater proliferation of them in the southern states. I've had a few customers ask me if there were any blister beetles in the hay before but now that this story has broke, I'm sure the picky horsey people will be even more picky.

We have not really seen much of these beetles in our area. Has anyone else in the Midwest seen them?
 

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Saw it mentioned in the shoutbox this a.m. and found the story here http://www.kmbc.com/news/ag-officials-6-horses-died-after-eating-hay-containing-beetles/35372154

Same story here but click on the pictures to the left and there's one with a photo of dead blister beetles found in hayhttp://www.rockymounttelegram.com/news/contaminated-hay-leads-horse-deaths-2985637

We are located in west central Illinois and I used to think that blister beetles couldn't tolerate our harsh winters but I researched them and learned that they can be found in almost all of the continental states. I do believe there is a greater proliferation of them in the southern states. I've had a few customers ask me if there were any blister beetles in the hay before but now that this story has broke, I'm sure the picky horsey people will be even more picky.

We have not really seen much of these beetles in our area. Has anyone else in the Midwest seen them?
I think that horsey people from the places where there is more of a chance of blister beetles already know about them. Lots of alfalfa goes from Colorado to southern states as there is a perceived thought that we don't have blister beetles in Colorado. I've never seen one in my alfalfa, but they could be there. Though I suspect that the usually mandatory spraying for aphids and weevils gets blister beetles as well. So watch out for the organic alfalfa from Colorado that might not get sprayed......
 
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... So watch out for the organic alfalfa from Colorado that might not get sprayed......
With the new "organic" fad in this country, I am sure that this may be a problem with some hay buyers. I've already fielded calls from folks inquiring if our hay was 'certified organic'. Our hay is 'organic' in that we don't put anything on the hay (except maybe fertilizer) but we don't fill out any gov't forms and go through the inspections to be qualified as organic. Our hay is what it is.

I used to own a couple of horses years ago for pleasure riding. I didn't realize I was supposed to be picky about the hay as a lot of people are these days. I figured if the horses ate the hay then it was good enough. The color of the hay didn't even enter my mind as a trait to look for. Things sure are different in the horsey world now.
 

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Never even heard of blister beetles until joining this site.

But conditions can vary wildly from one end of a state to the other. I'm in the arctic part of Indiana while Haybaler101 is in the tropical part of Indiana.
 

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Agriculture investigators have linked the deaths to a load of alfalfa hay delivered from Kansas last month to feed stores in Louisburg and Middlesex.

Officials said a poison in the blister beetle can be fatal to horses and can also sicken cattle, goats and sheep.

From Kentucky I read it requires the toxin from 55 striped beetles for a lethal dose of poison for a 1,000 lb animal.

About one fourth of the amount of poison from black or gray beetles.

The stripped beetles will be in an aggregation, same thing as a swarm or school with other critters.

Pulling a 9 ft mower I can spot them two rounds before coming up on the gang. I can avoid them simply by picking the mower up and going over the things.

Most problems are found when using a mower conditioner and the beetles go through the rollers. The beetles are smashed and the poison is on the hay. Seldom will there be visible signs of dead beetles in baled hay if baled during the day. BUT if baled at night the beetles will put up for the night in the windrow, and the baler operator will never detect them. This is where the real horror stories come from. For small bales the poison from several hundred beetles can be in each flake of hay if you work hard enough.

The beetles spend their Winters eating grasshopper eggs. when they run out of eggs they pupate and come out of the ground ready to fly and breed. This is the time they need heavy sugar and blooms are the place to find sugar. Their poison is in their "blood", and this will poison man and beast if consumed.

Now the horse will colic and die from the colic's pain at less than a full lethal dose.

As I mentioned there may be 50 bales with some poison in them and 25 bales with a lethal dose in each flake. If the hay you are feeding missed out on the poison you Lawyer will mad at you.

I do believe a horse can be run down by a train and you can find a Vet to swear that it was BB poisoning.

To exercise due caution avoid mowing with a mower conditioner when the beetles have emerged from the soil. I Stop using a conditioning mower by mid June and go back to conditioning the hay after maybe mid September. This is the time of year with the most pan evaporation and hay out in a wide swath will cure faster than hay dropped in a windrow.

I should trade my 9 ft MoCo for a 9 ft disk mower on a Cady. Keep my 7 ft disk mower as a backup. I would except I will be selling the farm in 18 Months and am getting slow and tired. 85 is a good time to retire.

used to think that blister beetles couldn't tolerate our harsh winters but I researched them and learned that they can be found in almost all of the continental states.

Any place in the world that has both flowering plants AND grass hoppers will have blister beetles. May only be gray or black beetles but there will be some. There is no hidden valley in Colorado with no beetles.

For years only the Western States were thought to have them, because they baled at night for the humidity. All the Humid States found out differently when they started using the conditioning mowers.

Our friend in colorado is mostly wrong. His States Extension may be using wacky backy. Shoot I had a Texas Bulletin that was 100% BS stating the poison from two beetles would kill a horse.

You can read bulletins from Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, I believe NM, KY and for Georgia for some good information. I found a bunch of this in a very old text book on insects.

Yes you can spray for the BB but they may all be on .25 Acres of a 140 acre pivot.

Oh yes the poison of the BB is the same poison as you have in the Spanish Fly. A sub lethal dose will produce prolonged and painful symptoms. Remember this poison 100 years ago was used for medical reasons. Yes Prolonged and Painful Symptoms.
 

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There is considerable humor to be found in this profession.

In the 1950's our weapon of choice was a 6 ft cycle mower. While mowing a bug landed on my neck. I swatted that bug and before that field was done I had a real blister on my neck. For years that was my entire exposure to that little bug.

Pop got a 7 ft, mower conditioner that used a Farm All mower on plus a set of smooth steel rollers, directly behind the tractor.

I went into the service and came home to a 9 ft NH something Hay conditioner mower. A big advance but the tunnel to form a windrow captured a lot of fine leaves on the top of the machine.

Then had a drum mower and later a 7 ft disk mower.

The local NH dealer had a well used NH 411. I have been using that machine for the last 20 years.

Now I still use that Disk Bine with a 9 ft cut and 6 ft rollers. Ten years ago I took the windrow forming doors off. I still use that older simple disk mower for grass hay. The Disk Bine os used to cut alfalfa for Late March, all of April, & May. Switch to the simple disk mower for June. Seldom do we have enough alfalfa to cut in our annual Summer Drought of July & August. The Labor day rains can provide a Fall cutting and for that I use the old trusty, much modified NH 411 on alfalfa.

Twenty years ago I stopped baling at night as I was getting too old to work with 4 hours sleep. I did not realize the great truth but I was missing a great opportunity to provide my dairy customers some blister beetle experience. Then was also when I learned about the wonders of baling live beetles, mostly crushed between the rollers.

Please realize the Lord looks after the Foolish and the Ignorant, which has helped me stay in business most of these years. :)
 

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I was taught that more blossom meant more likely for blister beetles as that is what they are interested in?
 

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I was taught that more blossom meant more likely for blister beetles as that is what they are interested in?
You took the words from my mouth Azmike............The more blooms it has makes a difference HERE, the only time I find them a issue is when alfalfa is over 50% bloom or more. It dont take many to kill a horse . edit There are several types of blister beetles .
 

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Fear Not alfalfa blooms do not universally attract blister beetles.

First their supply of grass hopper eggs has to be slowing down.

There is not a more attractive Summer Graze for them. Their first choice is the Night Shade family of plants. Here it can be the Silver Leaf Nightshade, if the patch is large enough. They also like potatoes. Fact is my Grandfather called them Potato beetles. But He was in Eastern Pennsylvania and the beetles and the potatoes were both available. Here we can find them in a Tomato Patch, but to get a crowd it takes a big patch of the Silver Leaf Night Shade plants.

IF their first choice is not there then they will go to the Burger King of the flowering plants, Alfalfa. At this time they are looking for protein, and protein is found in blooms. Be it Cotton, or Alfalfa.

Avoid TAMU and the coffee shop for blister beetle information. I have received wrong information from both sources. TAMU has insisted that 165 ppm K is idea for this soil and their tissue analysis will insist we need 400 ppm K.

Fact is Midwest Labs has a chart that tells me my alfalfa in a 40 CEC soil needs 400 ppm K. OR the alfalfa will show potassium deficiency with less than 350 ppm K and they were right.

This is because this clay captures and hides all the potash it can find.
 

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We have been swathing assorted weeds in wheat stubble fields pigweeds,kochias,thisitles etc. and I could not believe how many blister beetles ontop of the header . btw not to bale but to make it easier to get worked up this winter.
 

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Bill, a former extension entomologist at TAMU-Overton explained to me that the blister beetle will not be a problem "here" until about June each year. That means 'to me' that BB will not be in the 1st or 2nd cutting of alfalfa. Don't know if he ever wrote this in an extension publication, but I believe him, even if we would have BBs in alfalfa here, which I have not seen in at least 25 research studies and field production of alfalfa.

Teslan, this entomologist's knowledge about BB 'here' means that spraying for weevil and aphid likely will not kill blister beetle as they are not out in the first or second cutting when weevil and aphid are sprayed.
 
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