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Breeders: caterpillars hatching in Central KY

March 27, 2015

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Eastern tent caterpillars have begun hatching in Central Kentucky, according to a report in the Lexington Herald-Leader. The caterpillars were associated with Mare Reproductive Loss Syndrome (MRLS), which resulted in foal losses that devastated the Thoroughbred industry in 2001 and 2002.

Lee Townsend, an entomologist with the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, told the Herald-Leader that caterpillar eggs had begun to hatch in Scott County March 23. The larvae will emerge over the next two weeks from eggs laid last summer.

The greatest danger becomes when the caterpillars mature. Mares can inadvertently eat the caterpillars when grazing; the caterpillar hairs embed into the lining of the alimentary tract, which can cause bacteria to gain access to, and reproduce in, areas of low immunity, such as a fetus or placenta.

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