University Issues Caterpillar Advisory to Kentucky Farms

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.

Caterpillars are starting to complete their development at this time and will begin leaving trees in search of pupation sites (the place where they enclose themselves in cocoons and make their metamorphosis into adult moths). This part of their life cycle continues for about two weeks.

An epidemiological study of horse farms conducted last year indicated a strong correlation between the caterpillars and the rash of late term fetal loss and early term abortions experienced a year ago. The recommendation continues to be that pregnant mares should be kept away from large concentrations of the insects.

Caterpillars may move several hundred feet away from trees in which they were hatched and have already eaten all the leaves. For recommendations on controlling the pest, farm managers are encouraged to visit UK's MRLS Web site at