Ronald C. Leimgruber Farms
Blister Beetles
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Our Hay is Blister Beetle Free...
When you buy from Ronald C. Leimgruber Farms, you’re buying hay that we grow ourselves.  By carrying out every stage of the process of growing and baling hay, we know exactly how good our products are.  And because you’re buying direct from the grower, you can feel assured about the quality of the product that you are purchasing.
 
Our hay is blister beetle free.  Ask any hay grower in the Imperial Valley: hay from this area is safe from blister beetle contamination.
 
What are blister beetles?
Blister beetles are a species of beetle that has a blistering agent (cantharidin) in their hemolymph (the blood of insects).  While toxic to all livestock, horses are particularly susceptible to reactions from contact with the cantharidin.  This blistering agent causes irritation to the lining of the stomach, small intestine, bladder and urethra, and if consumed in great enough quantity, can be fatal to horses.
 
How do blister beetles end up in hay?
Hay is only contaminated with blister beetles if it has pieces of a great number of insects baled up in the bale.  While the amount of cantharidin in a single insect varies with the different types of beetles, academic research shows that a lethal dose for a horse would be 80 to 130 blister beetles.  A single beetle is highly unlikely to cause a fatality.  This large amount of beetles can be concentrated in one bale of hay because of blister beetles’ tendency to swarm, or congregate in large numbers.  It is also unlikely that you will find a live or whole blister beetle in hay.  Once the hay is cut, a live blister beetle will crawl out of the windrow (row of cut hay) as the grower waits for the freshly mowed hay to dry.  The problem arises when the grower cuts the hay and the hay is passed through a crimper, a common practice on commercial farms.  A crimper crushes the stem of the grass so that it dries more quickly, which allows the hay to be baled sooner and increases the quality of the hay.  A blister beetle can be crushed in the crimper.  Because the cantharidin remains potent on the fragments of a crushed beetle, a high concentration of crushed bits from lots of beetles can be potentially toxic to horses.
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What can I do to protect my horses from blister beetles?
The best way to ensure the safety and quality of your hay is to know from where it came.  Feel free to question your supplier and ask about growing conditions and product quality management.  Blister beetles are an occasional pest and you should not be afraid to buy hay from other states.  You can be sure though that hay from Ronald C. Leimgruber Farms is blister beetle free.
 
What if I do find insects in hay from Ronald C. Leimgruber Farms?
We grow our hay in fields, not contained bio-domes!  If you do find a large number of small black beetles in your hay, such as the one pictured at the bottom, rest assured that these are not blister beetles.  These are a very common and completely harmless insect called Darkling Ground Beetle.  These beetles feed on decaying organic matter and are mostly found in the western United States.  They are particularly prevalent in the summer months in the Imperial Valley and can be found both out-of-doors and inside buildings.  If our hay comes with these little hitchhikers, don’t worry, they’ll soon leave.
 
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Darkling Ground Beetle

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Ronald C. Leimgruber Farms

Mailing: 646 Olive AvenueHoltville, CA  92250

Cell: (760) 996-6939 Fax: (760) 356-4942