Integrated Crop Management News

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Blister beetles are occasional late-summer problems in Iowa alfalfa fields. The beetles feed on alfalfa and soybean foliage, but leaf loss is not of economic importance. The real problem with blister beetles lies in their toxicity to livestock, especially horses, when accidentally consumed in feed. The beetles produce cantharidin, an irritant that causes painful blistering when the insects are handled. The cantharidin remains in the beetle's body even after it dies. That becomes a problem when alfalfa is swathed, during which dead blister beetles can be incorporated into the hay as it is made.

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Iowa State University



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