View Full Version : Poisonous/Irritant Weeds in VA

Beam Me Up
Jul. 21, 2010, 03:12 PM
I have a small farm in VA.

About a week ago one horse came in with the side of his face (mostly his eyelid) swollen, a crusty oozy rash over his eye, and hives on the side of his face/neck.
I walked the field, with my reference pics of poison oak/ivy/sumac, found nothing similar or otherwise suspicious.

I'm not native to this area, but several who are tell me that numerous weeds can get wet and cause reactions, and not to worry too much. That horse has numerous allergy issues, so I put them in another field to let him recover.

Today another horse, without immune system issues had a similar, lesser reaction on his nose (missing hair, swollen, some ooze) in the other field.

Does anyone else in the area know what I should be looking for? Is there a plant that becomes more of an irritant at this time of year?

Thanks in advance for any help.

Jul. 21, 2010, 06:18 PM
Spiny pigweed can cause irritation from the spines.


You can also use that guide to figure out what else you might have growing out there.

I can't think of anything else, though if he was grazing near ground bees they could have gotten irritated and done a number on him.

Jul. 21, 2010, 06:42 PM
Pigweed....I hate, hate, hate that stuff.

Beam Me Up
Jul. 21, 2010, 06:44 PM
Thank you!
I do have that. I have been trying to weed it out with gloves (just because it is taking over a grassy area).
With different horses getting it in different fields, I'm thinking it's more likely a weed than bees, but either is definitely possible. Will work on getting rid of that stuff.

Jul. 21, 2010, 07:43 PM
Well, just keep an eye out for anything else while you're weeding.

Goats do a great job weedeating but mine wouldn't touch the stuff. Pigs don't eat it either. Why is it called pigweed if pigs won't eat it? Pigs eat EVERYTHING!

My guys get hives every September. Never have figured out what they're getting into and I've lived here for years. Never fails, though. They come in looking miserable and I have to fuss over them for a few days.

Cockleburr can irritate too but it's too early for cockleburr.

If you find anything you can't identify, you can contact your local extension agent for free help. Put the plant in a bag, photograph it or press it and bring it in.

Jul. 21, 2010, 07:54 PM
Is it yellow ooze? Crusty? Another possibility is a nest of seed ticks.

Jul. 21, 2010, 07:55 PM
Stinging nettles?

Beam Me Up
Jul. 21, 2010, 08:09 PM
Hm, it does sort of look like what nettles would do, though those I do know how to identify and haven't seen them.

The crust is sort of tickish, not sure if the hives/swelling is consistent.
Those are awful though! The low point of last summer was a run where I must have gotten 200 on each ankle--I was crusty and oozy for weeks.

I guess if I spend enough time out there I will run into whatever this is.

If it helps, here is one of the horses:
Swollen eyelid, crust above, regular hives down the neck.
The other horse's nose is swollen and the hair has come off, but the skin just looks shiny, not hivey.

Thanks guys!

Jul. 22, 2010, 01:27 AM
I was going to say chiggers until I saw the picture. Not sure now.

Jul. 23, 2010, 11:37 AM

You know.......I almost wonder if those could be fire ant bites.

If not fire ants, some other sort of biting insect/ant.

Not trying to scare you.... it's just that I looked at the photo and your description of where the bites are located and it's like the horse was grazing and got into something. Rather than rolling on something.

The bites you describe on your ankle are chiggers. No doubt in my mind.

But the horses... not sure. Could be a plant but it looks more like bites/stings.

Are the horses feeling better now? They must have been miserable.

Beam Me Up
Jul. 26, 2010, 04:18 PM
Thanks for the suggestion (and sorry I didn't see until now).

I do have a lot of ants outside. Not aware of fire ants (never seen the mounds), but it makes sense that it could have been an insect and not a plant. The fire ants range does go up to southern VA though, so it's possible they could be here.

Googled chiggers--definitely those were the ones that bit me--too small to pull out like ticks (my ankles just looked dirty, initially, until I realized each fleck was a little bug), and weeks of itching.

The horses are doing better, thanks. They still have some hives left, but the swelling and oozing is gone. I was afraid to put anything topical above the eyes, especially in this heat where it would melt, so the horse in the pic still has a lot of missing fur up high, but seems happier.

They have been back out in the fields, after i rounded up all the pigweed, and so far so good, but I guess more likely than not the animal/plant will find them again.

Jul. 26, 2010, 05:19 PM
I'd start walking your fields looking for a fire ant nest. :( They are not always big mounds. Sometimes most of the nest is underground, and you only find it if you disturb it, like I did this weekend when I was weeding in the big flowerbed. :sigh:

Beam Me Up
Jul. 27, 2010, 01:15 AM
I'd start walking your fields looking for a fire ant nest. :( They are not always big mounds. Sometimes most of the nest is underground, and you only find it if you disturb it, like I did this weekend when I was weeding in the big flowerbed. :sigh:

Scary!! OK, I will go out and look tomorrow. And research how to get rid of them. Thanks for the suggestion both of you--would never have thought of that.

Jul. 27, 2010, 01:13 PM
Stinging nettles?

I just learned (the hard way) about this stuff. HORRIBLE!!