Standlee’s Response to Misinformation on Blister Beetles

May 22, 2017

Standlee Premium Western Forage is committed to the safety of our products. In the week of May 14th, 2017 there was a social media post implicating our product with Blister Beetle poisoning. This post was comprised of a host of misinformation, but most importantly there has never been a reported case of any animal poisoned by Blister Beetles in Idaho, or by a Standlee product. To help you as horse and livestock owners, we have a renewed initiative to educate you about Blister Beetles to stay informed about this matter, and the historic information regarding the lack of these types issues in Idaho forage.

Historically speaking, Idaho did have an outbreak of the Punctuate Blister Beatle (Epicauta puncticollis) in June of 2012. At that time the State of Idaho Department of Agriculture alerted the public to a beetle congregating in higher numbers in Ada County (Treasure Valley) specifically near the Boise Foothills area. The insect species identified by the Idaho State Department of Agriculture is the native Punctuate Blister Beetle (Epicauta puncticollis) which is considered less concerning than the Striped Blister Beetle (Epicauta vittata). The State of Idaho does not have major concerns with either insect, nor has there been any outbreaks recorded in the last five years.

Blister Beetles belong to the Family Meloidae which lives in all parts of the world except New Zealand and Antarctica. Blister Beetles in the genus Epicuata are commonly found with grasshoppers in weedy conditions where beetle larvae feed on grasshopper eggs and adult beetles ingest feed on flowering plants including crops like alfalfa. Blister Beetles do not typically threaten crops; however, the insect carries a toxin called cantharidin which can be harmful or lethal to livestock if ingested in large quantities.

The Striped Blister Beetle (Epicauta vittata), common in the eastern United States, is widely considered to be a more serious threat to livestock. The striped species is prone to congregate in larger populations and has up to 25 times the concentration of toxin when compared to the Punctuate Blister Beetle. (Source: Blister Beetle Management in Alfalfa- University of Missouri Extension, Report- G4569, Reviewed October 1993.) The Striped Blister Beetle has never been reported west of South Dakota. (Source: Department of Entomology and Nematology- University of Florida, Report- EENY-280, Revised January 2012).

From harvesting and manufacturing perspectives, Standlee has well-established QA processes at their farms, production facilities and distribution centers to detect and eliminate insect infestations. Furthermore, Standlee’s Quality Assurance (QA) personnel continue to be diligent and regularly contact the University of Idaho Extension offices in each county near their forage sources.

In closing, it is the goal of Standlee Premium Western Forage to provide safe, high quality products to our customers. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at 800-398-0819.