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Cantharidin Levels in Blister Beetles (Coleoptera: Meloidae) Associated with Alfalfa in Colorado

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Livestock poisoning sometimes occurs when animals are fed alfalfa hay containing dead blister beetles. The toxin found in blister beetles, cantharidin, was measured in six species of Epicauta that feed on Colorado alfalfa, and compared with that of three blister beetles from other genera not usually associated with alfalfa. Significant differences in cantharidin concentrations were found among species. The most common blister beetles, Epicauta pennsylvanica(De Geer) and E. maculata (Say), had low (ca. 0.2 mg per beetle) and moderate (ca. 0.7 mg per beetle) levels of cantharidin, respectively. E. immaculata (Say), which was sporadically abundant in southeast Colorado, had high (ca. 4.8 mg per beetle) levels of cantharidin. Females had a significantly lower concentration (percentage of dry weight) of cantharidin. The number of beetles needed to induce mortality was estimated for horses of various weights ingesting beetles with various cantharidin levels.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 1985

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  • Journal of Economic Entomology is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December. The journal publishes articles on the economic significance of insects and is divided into the following sections: apiculture & social insects; arthropods in relation to plant disease; forum; insecticide resistance and resistance management; ecotoxicology; biological and microbial control; ecology and behavior; sampling and biostatistics; household and structural insects; medical entomology; molecular entomology; veterinary entomology; forest entomology; horticultural entomology; field and forage crops, and small grains; stored-product; commodity treatment and quarantine entomology; and plant resistance. In addition to research papers, Journal of Economic Entomology publishes Letters to the Editor, interpretive articles in a Forum section, Short Communications, Rapid Communications, and Book Reviews.
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