Richard returned from taking a message to our Amish neighbor earlier this evening. And he brought a troubling message back in return, one we weren't particularly pleased about. Our Amish neighbor had been in touch with another neighbor, who is a long term gardener. In a couple of days, a Blister Beetle infestation had defoliated Tomatoes, Peppers, Potatoes in his garden. We are not sure if other plants were affected.
According to the article in Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blister_beetle), Blister Beetles attack plants from the following families: Amaranthaceae, Asteraceae, Fabaceae, and Solanaceae. That would include: pigweed (which we would not care about, asters/lettuce/Echinacea (this would be big deal here), Beans (this would be a huge deal), and Tomatoes/Peppers/Potatoes (huge deal).
One particular variety is highly toxic to horses. We will have to share this with our Amish neighbor. http://extension.missouri.edu/p/g4569
We also did some reading in one of our favorite texts (The Organic Gardener's Handbook of Natural Insect and Disease Control, 1996, http://www.amazon.com/Organic-Gardeners-Handbook-Natural-Disease/dp/0875967531). For the home gardener, severe infestations can be controlled with pyrethrin. Richard says we don't have any on hand.
Contact with Blister Beetles will cause burns in humans. Richard reminded us that if we find them in the garden, we should be careful not to walk barefoot. That's no fun.
Hopefully we will not have problems here. We are on alert. Stay tuned.