Poisoning of livestock, particularly horses, has been associated with the consumption of alfalfa contaminated with dead blister beetles. Alfalfa fields in north and central Georgia were surveyed during 1987 and 1988 to determine which species infest the crop and assess the risk of each species for contaminating hay. Epicauta vittata (F.), Epicauta pestifera Werner and Epicauta pennsylvanica (DeGeer) were collected both years. Epicauta pestifera was most abundant in 1987, but E. pennsylvanica was most abundant in 1988. Epicauta vittata occurred in low numbers from mid-June through September. Densities of E. pestifera and E. pennsylvanica peaked on 25 August and about 22 September, respectively, in both years. Blister beetle densities were poorly correlated with grasshopper densities. Epicauta vittata was considered to pose the greatest risk of contaminating alfalfa hay in Georgia because of its previous association with livestock poisonings and its tendency to form aggregations in the field. Except for one specimen, no blister beetles were collected before 15 June and after 25 October. Therefore, cuttings harvested between these dates are at greatest risk of being contaminated by blister beetles.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.