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Blister Beetles (Coleoptera: Meloidae) in Kansas: Historical Perspective and Results of an Intensive Alfalfa Survey

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Economic damage caused by blister beetles (Coleoptera: Meloidae) is not the conventional crop destruction experienced in traditional economic pest management systems. Cantharidin, a toxic compound produced by blister beetles, is responsible for livestock deaths when ingested by susceptible animals in contaminated alfalfa hay. Horses are particularly sensitive to this toxin. Several sources were used to establish the historical scope of blister beetle problems in Kansas. Data from two local museum-maintained insect collections indicate that at least 26 species of Epicauta occur in Kansas. Results of a 2-yr field survey for blister beetles in northeastern Kansas alfalfa provided the following information: seven species of Epicauta were found, with five species identified as posing significant risk problems because of seasonal occurrence, peak abundance, or behavioral characteristics. Potentially all cuttings of alfalfa can contain blister beetles, and the source of the risks changes in a consistent fashion as the season progresses and the blister beetle species complex shifts. Baseline information obtained from this survey is vital to establish unbiased risk assessments, guide future research, and develop practical blister beetle pest management programs.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 1988

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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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