Ted Krueger was making the rounds on his farm before spotting something unusual.
“I noticed my fence had been knocked down about 5 o’clock in the morning when I was going out to see my horses,” said Krueger.
By the time he reached his horses, he realized changes in their behavior.
“They were laying on their side which isn’t terribly unusual, but one of them was out and the other was in. I thought they had just gotten to the grass and had eaten too much green grass,” Krueger said.
But the problem was more serious than he realized.
Kreuger’s horses, Spirit and Roo, were sick.
He called in a vet who told him blister beetles had infected his horses.
“There are over 200 species of them. It doesn’t take much, it only takes about 4 grams of the species to cause a toxicity in the horse. They specifically show up in dryer conditions,” said Dr. Kara Mauch, with the Sheridan Animal Hospital.
He says it was unexpected for him to find these intruders, and he is warning others how to identify them.
“They are black, they are red, they are a whole bunch of different colors, and they are in North Dakota this year. I found out the hard way by losing two horses,” Krueger said.
Spirit and Roo were a special breed, leaving behind sentimental memories.
“They were Montana Travelers, which is Missouri Fox Trotter, Morgan Hamiltonian, Saddlebred and Thoroughbred mixed to make a Mountain Savvy horse that’s Caddle smart.”
So now Ted is only left with Rocky, the last horse to be found on his farm.
“He’s my last Montana Traveler and all three of the boys came from the same stud, out in Harve Montana.”
Dr. Mauch said there are certain symptoms you can look out for.
“Muscle twitching, spasms, is one of the first things you’ll notice. They will sweat a lot, they will become agitated stomping their feet,” said Dr. Mauch.
“I didn’t know this, and I hope it lets people know it’s a possibility and people are aware of it,” said Krueger.
According to the NDSU Extension Service, alfalfa and forage are preferred hosts for blister beetles — and they often move into canola or other field crops after farmers cut their alfalfa.