Blister beetles occasionally cause localized areas of damage within soybean and alfalfa fields. However, the significance of damage to these crops is questionable. This is because the gregarious nature of the more commonly occurring blister beetles limits the area attacked and because soybean and alfalfa plants can compensate for substantial foliar losses. It is in this area that blister beetles may become a major concern. The bodies of blister beetles contain a substance called cantharadin. This chemical is an irritant capable of causing the formation of blisters upon those body tissues exposed to the chemical. Livestock may come into contact with blister beetles via the consumption of alfalfa hay containing dead beetles.
Apple orchards suffer from a wide range of problems. The worst of all is not moose, deer, rabbits, voles, round-headed apple tree borers, sawfly, codling-moth, curculio, or scab. It is a bird, the ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus), known locally by the nickname partridge, which is the term I will use in this article. Partridge eat the buds of trees in the winter, and apple buds are among their favorite foods. They eat both leaf and flower buds, but leaf buds will regenerate the same year. Flower buds will not; they require two years in formation. If you lose all your flower buds, you will have no apples. Just one partridge is easily capable of “budding” an entire small orchard over the course of the winter.
In the Old World two insects, called asparagus beetles, have been known as enemies of the asparagus since early times. In the year 1862 the common asparagus beetle was the occasion of considerable alarm on asparagus farms in Queens County, N.Y., where it threatened to destroy this, one of the most valuable crops grown on Long Island. Subsequent inquiry developed the fact that the species had begun its destructive work at Astoria, near New York City, in 1860, and it is now conceded that it was introduced in this locality about 1856.