Stay up-to-date on the latest news about your horse's health with FREE newsletters from TheHorse.com. Topics include Nutrition, Soundness & Lameness, Equine Behavior, Farm & Barn, Older Horse Care, and more.
Experts report that this year’s Eastern tent caterpillar egg hatch is about a week ahead of the past 10 years’ average.
"By the end of March, all egg masses present should have hatched and larvae should be in the 1/2 to 3/4-inch range," said Lee Townsend, PhD, University of Kentucky (UK) College of Agriculture entomologist. "Small tents–approximately golf-ball sized–should be visible in cherry trees. This will be a good time to begin to assess activity and population size."
Townsend urged horse farms to check wild cherry and related trees for Eastern tent caterpillar activity to determine whether management is necessary. If control measures are needed to reduce numbers, property owners should take action before the caterpillars leave their trees.
"The small caterpillars will stay near the egg mass for a short time before moving to feed on expanding leaves," Townsend said.
"Eastern tent caterpillars grow and develop as long as the temperature is above 37 degrees; the warmer it is, the faster they will grow. Cold temperatures will slow them down, but the tent and the general cold hardiness of the species will keep them from being affected drastically, even if temperatures drop below freezing at night," he added.
Controlling Eastern tent caterpillars is vital to area horse farms, as UK research results indicate the caterpillars caused outbreaks of mare reproductive loss syndrome, which can cause late-term foal losses, early- and late-term fetal losses, and weak foals.
During the 2001-2002 MRLS outbreak, an estimated 30% of that year’s Thoroughbred foal crop was lost. The state suffered an economic loss of approximately $336 million in all horse breeds.
Create a free account with TheHorse.com to view this content.
TheHorse.com is home to thousands of free articles about horse health care. In order to access some of our exclusive free content, you must be signed into TheHorse.com. Start your free account today!