I found some black beetles in one of my water buckets last night. They were taken to UC Davis to be tested today, havnt gotten results yet. We live in California, and if I'm remembering correctly, they are not native to CA?
Although, he just bought some Alfalfa/ Grass from Nevada. I had noticed it being a bit dusty, not moldy, just a little dusty. So I had been soaking it.
We have found a total of 6 of these bugs. In three different water buckets. I couldnt find them in the hay. The horses were all fine today, I checked on them every two hours, to make sure they still had an appetite, and I looked in the mouths of the ones that would let me.
The only thing out of the ordinary, is that two of my mares have very mild hives. They arnt itchy or anything, just there. One of the mares seemed a little lethargic this morning, I was so close to loading her up and taking her down to UC Davis right there, but I brought her in a stall with a fan, and she perked up. So maybe it was the heat? Poop is still solid on all of them, great appetites, etc....
These beetles are about 3/4 of an inch long, they have wings, black, with slender-ish bodies.
Samantha, If there are blister beetles, then you should be finding them in the hay, not the water buckets. However you did the absolutely right thing by taking them immediately to have the tested. I guess the horse could have had a couple in their mouth and gotten a drink.....
Blister beetles are extremely poisonous and it doesn't take but a few of the "striped" ones to kill a horse. There are about 300 varieties of the darn things and they all have differing levels of toxicity. They are common throughout the United States and while they may not be indigenious to Cali, they have been introduced into alfalfa fields there.
We still havnt gotten the results back, should be tomorrow for sure!
I didnt find anymore in the waters today. The two mares still had hives, but their temps were fine, and had good appetites.
We have three different kinds of hay, I sorted through them all and couldnt find any trace, nor did I see any on the ground in the hay barn. We called our suppliers, and they said they hadnt had any other clients having issues with this.
But as soon as the beetles were found yesterday, we went and got a truckload of a hay from a different feed store.
From all the pictures I have found of them, they look exactly like them. I still have one in a plastic bag here, I will get a picture of the darn thing and post it here for some opinions.
Sam, I think you have done everything right 100%. You are a GREAT horse-mom.
I grew up out in Texas and Colorado and then spent three years in Arizona; i.e., I fed a lot of alfalfa hay out there and we cut our own in Colorado. One thing about blister beetles is that they "swarm" one patch of a field. In other words, you can have a 40 acre hay field and they may only be in a 100 square foot patch of the field; so 99% of the hay out of that field can be fine, but if you get that patch were they were swarming at the time....
They are scary little buggers and nothing to mess around with. I have never had a horse that had a problem with them but some friends of our had a horse that ate a total of about 16 of them (from what they could sumise of its stomach contents) and it poisoned that poor horse dead. The other horses in the barn apparently didn't get any as they were fine. What I'm saying is that the darn things can be in only a partial bale of hay even.
Some of the species are extremely toxic and others are "not so much". And the differing species can be together.
Since I have moved back East, we feed mostly coastal, bermuda, and/or timothy hay (I love a good orchard grass/timothy mix). So I haven't really worried about the nasty little bugs so much. We do feed alfalfa cubes (Purina) to our young growing horses. Haven't ever had a problem with any cubes. I guess if I ever do, I can hang Purina for it.
:*( Test results came back positive this afternoon. We have a blister beetle problem. We are collecting as many as we can find, and a toxicology specialist is going to test them to see how many it would take to kill a horse.
We had a pregnant mare (about two months along) colic pretty severly tonight. Vet gave her activated charcoal and banimine, seems fine now. Is eating as well. We cant find ANY trace of them in the hay, so, because we cannot trace them, as a precaution, all the horses are on pellets. It was a risk we had to take switching them all. For the most part they had been eating a little bit of pellets (about a scoop) a day, so, I guess that makes it a little better.
Now I am extremly worried about them all. The vet didnt know of any preventive measures, as he had has never seen them before. Any suggestions? I was thinking of tubing them all (yes, all 20) with mineral oil, but that would be a REAL pain :S
If you haven't been feeding the "infected" hay for two or three days, you should probably be in the clear, but trust your instincts and your vet.
The darn things are really bizarre. They can be in one or two flakes of an entire bale and that is it. You just never know which flakes of which bale.
Have you contacted your hay supplier? They should probably be alerted and also see if they will give you an "exchange". Most will as they don't want to incur the liability of bad hay.
Jan Owen Senior Stallion or Mare Username: 1frosty1
Post Number: 1554 Registered: 04-2006
Posted on Saturday, May 10, 2008 - 11:32 am:
WOW Samantha...hopefully they did not ingest to many..Thank the good Lord that you are such a diligent horse owner and caught them you probably safed all your horses lives. Keep us posted as to what protocol you are following. Good luck!
We havn't had any issues now for a couple days, the mare that colicked seems fine, hives are gone on the two mares.
Even though we are just feeding pellets, and the hay barn is locked up tight, we have still been finding on average of 4 bugs a day, still in the water.
We have not for sure identified which hay it is in, as there are still none to be found anywhere in the flakes. So Im guessing it is like Catherine said, and they were just in a flake or two?
I think that my vet has alerted other vets in the area, so hopefully our experiance with them will help to save other horses.
Thanks for all the positive thoughts, we arn't out of the woods yet, but I think we may pull through this. Tomorrow the bugs that we have collected over the weekend will be going in to get tested by a toxicologist to see how toxic this particular species is, and how many it would take to kill a horse. I will keep this post updated. Thanks again for all the good thoughts
Sam, Are there any alfalfa fields within say a mile or so distance from your stable? If you are still finding the darn things about the stable, then I would say there is a swarm of them somewhere close by. If they are going for the water buckets, they are present somewhere nearby. You may consider spraying your farm.
Nope, no hay fields for about 10 miles away I think. Northern Cali lacks hay growing spots, lol. I kind of live in the middle of nowhere, but there are some people less than a mile away that have some horses, maybe they have the affected hay? And the dang things are just finding their way over to my place? I should probably call and ask them, or at least alert them of the issues we are having. I think they are kind of novice horse owners, so they probably wouldnt know to be very alerted at the appearance of these nasty little beetles.
We went and got hay that contains to alfalfa what so ever today. I think we are done feeding alfalfa for a long time, this is really a scary thing. Especially when that mare colicked, I knew exactly what the problem was, and thats the scary part. I hate to admit it, but I am just kind of waiting for something to happen to one of them. We are taking every precaution possible, besides moving all 20 horses from the property, there really isnt anything else to to (besides spray, like Catherine mentioned, we will be looking into that). The hay barn is still locked up tight. It is a metal building on concrete, windows and doors are shut, so I have no idea how these things are getting out if it, if thats where they are coming from.
Another note to ad, we are finding them in many different sizes, which leads me to beleive that they are reproducing....great..
Does anybody know how long they typically live? And why they "come alive" again after being in the water? When collect them and add them to my "jar of beetles", they seem to come alive again? So the jar now has about 10 beetles collected over the weekend, and a couple inches of water in it, to make sure they die.
Sam, If you are finding them alive or they "come alive", they are coming from somewhere other than your hay. Typically the ones found in hay have been dead for quite some time. A lot of times the farmers will spray their fields prior to cutting and/or most just don't survive the baling process.
I still think they are coming from somewhere around you. Remember there are over 300 species of the darn things and not all are purely "alfalfa specific". The same striped beetles you see in potato, tomato, beet and other crops with foliage are blister beetles. It doesn't have to be specifically alfalfa, any of the above crops are really prone to harboring them.
Sam, The things could be coming in from someone's garden, etc. They are attracted to live plants with lots of foilage, (thus their affinity to alfalfa since it is a broad leafy green forage). I would definitely say that you have a "source" for live ones right now and they are finding there way to your barn for water.
Another perplexing thing about them is that they could all be gone a week from now --- on to greener pastures so to speak. They tend to swarm an area and then move on.
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