Eastern Tent Caterpillars Hatching Earlier This Year

Research has proven the caterpillars caused outbreaks of mare reproductive loss syndrome (MRLS).
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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 (UK) officials said Feb. 29.

Lee Townsend, PhD, an entomologist at the UK College of Agriculture, said caterpillar populations have been sporadic during the last few years with pockets of increased populations in some areas. He said Central Kentucky is seven to 10 days away from being able to see distinct tents in trees with live larvae.

Controlling Eastern tent caterpillars is vital to area horse farms, as UK research has proven the caterpillars caused outbreaks of mare reproductive loss syndrome (MRLS), which can cause late-term foal losses, early- and late-term fetal losses, and weak foals. During the 2001-02 MRLS outbreak, about 30% of that year’s Thoroughbred foal crop was lost.

The state suffered an economic loss of $336 million in all breeds of horses

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