Thehorse.com - Full Article
By Kristen M. Janicki, MS, PAS Jun 8, 2015
It might be hard to imagine that an essential part of the horse’s diet could contain potentially deadly hidden toxins. But it’s a hard truth that horse owners must be aware of: Alfalfa hay can harbor an insect called the blister beetle (Epicauta spp) that can contain a harmful toxic substance called cantharidin.
A member of the Meloidae family, blister beetles live throughout the United States and Canada. Their average body length is about 0.3 to 1.3 inches. A blister beetle’s diet is mainly composed of pollen, blossoms, and leaves of flowering plants, making alfalfa the perfect meal for them. Most alfalfa infestation occurs during late summer and early fall, when the adult blister beetle population also peaks...
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