For the ranch owners, the loss of the horses is more than financial. “She just did her job. The most common blister beetles, Epicauta pennsylvanica(De Geer) and E. maculata (Say), had low (ca. We had sick horses every single day, or dead,” she said. The former governor of Wisconsin, Robert “Fighting Bob” La Follette, was well-known for his progressive politics as well as an impressive head of hair. Old medical reference books list a number of potential uses for cantharidin, ranging from the treatment of skin conditions to a supposed remedy for baldness. The common blister beetles species of the Upper Midwest are oblong and typically range from ½-inch to ¾-inch long, although other species can vary in size. The blankets came from some of the 14 horses that have died at the ranch since August, from what owner Cindy Kanarowski-Peterson thinks was a poisonous beetle infestation in hay she bought from an online auction site. In fact, she can list a host of other respiratory problems she typically sees, from moldy hay, in particular. However, cantharidin might have harmed more than it helped. However, this group is widely distributed across the lower 48 states, with nearly 30 species known from Wisconsin alone. To schedule a ride or donate to the ranch, call (608) 847-2273 or see redridgeranch.com. A few of our Midwestern species are striped or brightly colored, but many common species are dark-colored, being mostly black, grey, or a dark metallic green. Blister beetles can have a wide arrange of hosts, with some of the most common being vegetable and ornamental crops. She described the situation as “heartbreaking” and said she feels helpless, since her insurance does not cover bugs, and the auction company has told her the blister beetles she found, which produce a toxic chemical that can kill horses, could not have come from its hay and must have come from somewhere else. There are approximately 2,500 known species worldwide. During recent weeks, a Wisconsin horse ranch reported losing 15 horses to blister beetle-infested hay that they had purchased from a Western hay producer. Blister beetle poisoning is rare in equines, but can occur if the adult beetles happen to be in an alfalfa field feeding on blossoms at the time of harvest and are crushed by farm equipment. It’s incredible how they help each other out,” Lyle Peterson said after saying goodbye to Harlan Wienke, a stranger from New Richmond who had driven more than two hours in an ice storm to bring the ranch 38 bales of hay. Blister beetle contaminated hay is almost always the result of beetles being crushed prior to baling. Because some customer favorites died, Kanarowski-Peterson is concerned some  people might not return for trail rides, hurting her business more in the future. The properties of cantharidin are well-known, and this chemical irritant and its coleopteran source have a surprising history dating back thousands of years. According to an article from the American Association of Equine Practitioners, the blister beetle is "is highly toxic to sheep and cattle, but primarily to horses." BLISTER BEETLE: Alfalfa producers should be aware that blister beetle infestations may become more prevalent late in the season or during periods of grasshopper abundance. You don’t like it, but it happens,” she said, noting that she loses three or four horses every year, especially because she has some older horses since she gives them “forever homes.”. At first she thought it was something in their grain, so she stopped feeding the horses that. A pile of the bad hay, covered in a horse blanket like the ones that line the nearby fence, sat outside a shed that housed bales of the bad stuff. For now she and her husband continue to feed their horses their remaining grass hay and other feed provided by the kindness of friends and strangers. Unlike the stereotypical “crunch” of most other beetles—think of accidentally stepping on a May/June beetle—blister beetles have softer bodies and are similar to fireflies in this regard. They’ve heard beef cattle might be able to consume it in some way, but they don’t want what happened to them to happen to someone else. “It’s not something that’s a local problem,” he said. Kanarowski-Peterson said they normally grow their own hay to feed their horses, but last year was a particularly bad year for growing hay in Wisconsin, due to spring snow and flooding. Blister beetles range from ��� Wienke, who has riding horses, had stopped by previously with his wife to set up a wagon ride for a group, then saw the ranch's plight on Facebook. Officials say summer flooding left the hay from the fields at Red Ridge Ranch Riding Stable in Mauston, Wisc., unstable. They are known as ���Blister beetles��� because they secrete cantharidin, a poisonous chemical causing blistering of the skin and painful swelling. DOWNLOAD THE APP: Get the latest news, sports and When they realized they weren't going to have enough hay to feed their horses through the winter, Kanarowski-Peterson did what a lot of people do when they need to buy something: She went online. But usually the stomachs will fill up with fluid first. “The heart of our business, a bunch of the horses, are gone,” Kanarowski-Peterson said. Kanarowski-Peterson, who started Red Ridge in 1999 but has worked with horses her entire life, including as a barrel racer, had never heard of blister beetles before Kolb mentioned them. 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