Caterpillars tied to widespread foal loss in 2001
Eastern tent caterpillars in Central Kentucky are mature, have dispersed from trees, and are on the move, leading experts to advise horse farm managers to move pregnant mares, if practical, to avoid contact with them.
Experts report the eastern tent caterpillar egg hatch will likely begin in mid-March for Central Kentucky.
Eastern tent caterpillar eggs have begun hatching well ahead of last year's schedule, and the egg hatch is expected to be completed by the first full week of March, University of Kentucky officials said Feb. 29.
Experts have reported that Eastern tent caterpillars are developing normally this spring and have just completed the egg hatch stage. Controlling the caterpillars is vital to area horse farms, as University of Kentucky research has strongly linked them with outbreaks of mare reproductive loss syndrome, which can cause late-term foal losses, early-term fetal losses, and weak foals.
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 second foal has been confirmed as having died from mare reproductive loss syndrome (MRLS) in Florida, according to Dr. Dana Zimmel of the University of Florida's College of Veterinary Medicine.
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