Caterpillars tied to widespread foal loss in 2001
Though there aren't indications of widespread high populations of the Eastern tent caterpillar, University of Kentucky officials said its an optimal time for horse farms to assess caterpillar activity and implement control strategies while the larvae are small and most susceptible.
A research project has determined that it probably isn't a virus or bacteria (a biological agent) that links the Eastern tent caterpillar (ETC) to mare reproductive loss syndrome (MRLS).
Recent research conducted by the University of Kentucky indicates that there is something in or on the exoskeleton (skin and associated structures) of the Eastern tent caterpillar that causes horses to abort.
Because of the proposed link of the Eastern tent caterpillar and Mare Reproductive Loss Syndrome, the Grayson/Jockey Club Research Foundation and the University of Kentucky held an informational session Friday to discuss controlling and eradicating caterpillars.
A University of Kentucky entomologist is hoping to soon discover the safest and most effective way to destroy the eastern tent caterpillars believed responsible for the outbreaks of mare reproductive loss syndrome experienced in Kentucky and neighboring states over the last two years.
By Jenny Taylor -- The culprit for MRLS was an unseasonable weather-induced pasture change, which caused pregnant mares to have an acute nitrogen overload, and subsequent ammonia-induced abortions.
Finding a way to rid Central Kentucky horse farms of Eastern Tent Caterpillars is the goal of a new $50,000 study financed by the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation.
The scientific community wrapped up a two-day workshop at the University of Kentucky's Gluck Equine Research Center Aug. 28 with a thorough review of research into mare reproductive loss syndrome, and some ideas on how to proceed in 2003.
A research project begins well before the experiment starts. That was the case of the recently completed collaborative effort at the University of Kentucky that associated the Eastern tent caterpillar and its frass (excrement) and Mare Reproductive Loss Syndrome (MRLS). Work on that project began last fall, even before funding was finalized.
The University of Kentucky issued an advisory Friday regarding the eastern tent caterpillar, which is still regarded as a primary risk factor associated with mare reproductive lose syndrome.
There may not be answers as to the cause of mare reproductive loss syndrome, but there's certainly a desire for more information. More than 300 people turned out at meeting in Lexington Monday night to exchange information and prepare for the 2002 breeding season.
The good news is if the Eastern tent caterpillars were responsible in some way for this spring's outbreak of foal loss, that they are gone now, cocooned and growing into the next generation of moths.
Discussions of results obtained to date by several scientists and consultants working on the investigation into the cause of Mare Reproductive Loss Syndrome (MRLS) on Monday have caused the investigation to shift to a more thorough examination of the potential role of the Eastern Tent Caterpillar (ETC) in MRLS.
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