Archive for the ‘Insects’ Category
Luckily ash isn’t a major city tree for the city of Richmond. We do have ash in the area but nothing extreme. This just reiterates the fact that diversity is key. Plant lots of different tree species and you won’t have the problem of one insect destroying one species of tree in your entire urban (or non urban) forest.
A destructive beetle threatens trees — and people who live near them
By Patterson Clark, Published: MAY 13, 6:15 PM ET
A metallic-green beetle has arrived, posing a threat to ash trees — and the people who live near them.
That is the conclusion drawn by scientists studying the devastating effects of the emerald ash borer (EAB) in the United States. The exotic invasive beetle, first detected in Michigan in 2002, has laid waste to more than 100 million ash trees in at least 15 states, including Maryland and Virginia. The insect’s larvae feed on the inner bark of all 22 species of native ash trees, killing almost every tree infested within two to five years. The United States has about 7.5 billion ash trees. In some forests, more than half the trees are ash.
The rapid disappearance of such an abundant tree has provided a unique opportunity for foresters, statisticians and epidemiologists to see how tree loss affects humans by comparing changes in human mortality rates before and after the demise of the ash in almost 1,300 counties.
A study in February’s American Journal of Preventive Medicine showed that deaths from cardiovascular and lower respiratory illnesses rose as ash trees vanished. The study found that the EAB’s effects can be linked to more than 21,000 deaths — an additional 24 deaths per 100,000 people every year, a 10 percent increase in mortality for those diseases.
Although the authors did not detail any direct cause-and-effect relationships, they did cite previous studies demonstrating the health benefits of trees: They improve air quality, moderate temperature and provide opportunities for physical activity; trees are psychologically soothing and act as buffers for stress; a walk through the woods reduces heart rates and lowers cortisol levels; children living on tree-lined streets are less likely to have asthma.
Ash is the most common tree in Baltimore, comprising more than 10 percent of the metro area’s canopy: 6.5 million ash trees. In the District, the urban canopy is only about 2 percent ash — but that still adds up to more than 51,000 trees, according to the nonprofit organization Casey Trees.
This month, half-inch-long adult EABs will emerge from D-shaped holes in infested ash trees. They will feed on ash leaves and then lay eggs in crevices of the tree’s bark. Larvae will hatch to burrow under the bark, carving out meandering tunnels that will girdle and inevitably kill the tree.
Although Manchurian ashes from the beetle’s native range in East Asia have evolved chemical defenses against the borer, most American ashes are defenseless. However, the blue ash, a species from the Midwest, appears to be attacked much less frequently than other native ash species and might be able to persist in what researchers call “aftermath forests,” where other ash species have disappeared so completely that even the beetle is absent.
People finding EABs are encouraged to report the sighting. In Maryland, call 410-841-5920; in D.C, call 301-313-9327; in Virginia, 804-786-3515. An entomologist might be dispatched to confirm the sighting, but it’s up to the property owner to decide the fate of the tree.
Relatively healthy trees can be protected from beetles with expensive systemic pesticides applied every two years. But extensive infestations can prevent trees from transporting the chemicals up through the trunk and out into the limbs. Cutting down dead or dying trees is the responsibility of property owners, but wood cannot be transported outside of quarantined areas, which locally includes Maryland counties west of the Chesapeake Bay, all Virginia counties and the District.
Biological-control measures have been deployed in several states to try to check the spread of the beetle. Biologists have introduced several species of tiny parasitic wasps from East Asia that lay eggs exclusively on EAB eggs and larvae. The wasp eggs hatch into predatory larvae that can doom a beetle’s prospects.
In Michigan, two of the three stingless wasps are now widely established, parasitizing about a third of all EABs, said USDA research entomologist Jian J. Duan. In Maryland, where wasps have been released for the past two years, parasitism rates are at about 10 percent. “More releases and additional time are still needed to allow those introduced parasitoids to establish an expanding population,” Duan said.
Well they have been out, as moths. The males have been flying around all winter. (Females are wingless). Now the larvae have emerged and are starting to munch on your trees and shrubs.
Generally they are harmless to your trees health.
Lets just hope things aren’t as bad as they were last year.
Tree-Killing Insects Adapting to Warmer Cities
Bizarre-looking bugs known as scale insects may be tiny but they can take down an oak tree. Considered pests, the creatures tend to flock to cities where they weaken, and in some cases, kill trees by sucking out their sap.
A new study shows that scale insects are found in big numbers in populous regions because they have adapted to the heat of urban areas. The pests threaten to become a bigger problem as climate change drives temperatures up, researchers warn.
“We now have a better understanding of why trees in urban areas are infested by so many of these pests,” study researcher Steve Frank, an assistant professor of entomology at North Carolina State University, said in a statement. “And if climate change causes temperatures to rise in forests, as we expect, we may see scale insects becoming a much bigger problem for ecosystem health.”
Frank and his colleagues analyzed the Raleigh, N.C., populations of the oak lecanium scale insect (Parthenolecanium quercifex), which feeds exclusively on oaks. By looking at temperature maps of the city, the researchers found that the scale populations were as much as 800 percent higher in the warm zones.
The team then collected scale insect egg sacs from both hot and cool zones and incubated them in hot and cool greenhouses. In the hot greenhouse, the egg sacs from the warmest urban zones produced almost four times as many insects as the egg sacs from cooler urban zones.
To try to explain this trend, the researchers looked at the prevalence of parasites and the fertility rates among the insects from both hot and cold zones of the city, but they did not find any significant differences. The scientists concluded that the bugs have locally adapted in response to urban warming.
“The scale insects in the hotter urban zones appear to have adapted or acclimated to the higher temperatures in urban environments,” study researcher Emily Meineke, a doctoral student at NC State, said in the statement. “Theoretically, that adaptation would also allow them to take advantage of warmer temperatures that may result from climate change.”
The urban heat island effect can make temperatures several degrees warmer in a city than its surrounding rural areas, as clusters of roads and buildings are very good absorbers of the sun’s rays. Rising numbers of scale insects in cities could spell trouble for city trees, which can provide some environmental benefits like cooling through shade and carbon sequestration. And if global temperatures continue to rise, scale insects could spread outside cities and infest more rural trees, the researchers warn.
Their findings were detailed in a study published online last week in the journal PLOS ONE.
There’s already strong evidence that the best-selling pesticides in the world are wreaking havoc on pollinator populations and may play a role in Colony Collapse Disorder among honeybees, but a new study commissioned by the American Bird Conservancy dives deeper into the impact of neonicotinoid pesticides on the food chain, and its findings are grim.
The nearly 100-page study — called The Impact of the Nation’s Most Widely Used Insecticides on Birds and co-authored by environmental toxicologist Dr. Pierre Mineau and American Bird Conservancy Pesticides Program Manager Cynthia Palmer — reviews 200 studies on the effects of neonicotinoids and finds that the pesticides’ persistence, solubility, toxicity and mobility pose a unique threat, particularly to aquatic ecosystems, where agricultural runoff may cause permanent damage to aquatic invertebrate populations and all the organisms that depend on them for food.
And while publicity has focused on the effect of these systemic pesticides — products like imidacloprid and clothianidid that are absorbed by a plant’s roots and then circulate throughout it — on pollinating insects like bees and butterflies, the conservancy’s report alleges that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has simply ignored evidence of toxicity to birds and small mammals, creatures known to eat freshly planted seeds, even those coated in pesticide.
The report states, “Of particular concern to birds are those compounds that are used as seed treatments, primarily imidacloprid, clothianidin, thiamethoxam and acetamiprid. … Seeds are never fully covered with soil, making them easy to find by foraging birds. Spills are commonplace with current machinery. And many species have the ability to scrape and dig for planted seed. Seed treatments, by definition, will result in a high exposure situation for birds….”
The conservancy singles out imidacloprid as acutely toxic to birds at surprisingly low levels, noting that a single kernel of treated corn can kill small birds and sicken large ones, and calls for a ban on its use as a seed treatment.
More alarmingly, the report goes into great detail about agricultural runoff resulting in contamination of aquatic environments, from rivers and streams to groundwater wells and even to “prairie potholes,” which are vital wetlands oases for waterfowl, often set amidst big tracts of commodity cropland. Neonicotinoid pesticides, which act on the central nerve system, can persist in soil for as long as two years, and are highly water soluble.
Contamination through runoff is inevitable, as EPA’s own scientists have repeatedly warned.
How did we get here?
When it comes to understanding the impact of neonicotinoids that have washed into waterways, regulators have simply chosen to strictly adhere to inadequate testing protocols. In short, the EPA’s standard freshwasher invertebrate example species, Daphnia magna, is remarkably insensitive to this class of pesticides. The conservancy’s report spends many pages analyzing exposure rates for different organisms from various studies, and in every cited case, Daphnia species persist at many times the exposure level of most other aquatic invertebrates and crustaceans, sometimes tens or hundreds of times the level. This information is well documented in peer-reviewed research that the EPA has chosen to ignore.
Additionally, EPA and other regulatory bodies conduct testing by exposing organisms to the test chemical, then monitoring the population for a certain period of time following the exposure, usually 24, 48 or 96 hours. The conservancy’s report highlights two studies where the post-exposure monitoring period was increased to a period of two to four weeks. Both studies reported dramatically higher invertebrate mortality beyond the standard post-exposure window.
Another problem that regulators haven’t adequately addressed is that in species mortality evaluations, neonicotinoids score very well on fish toxicity. While they pose little immediate danger to fish species, contamination in waterways threatens many of the food species that fish, as well as waterfowl, avian insectivores, and amphibians rely on. So instead of being poisoned, as they were with older classes of pesticides, fish may now simply experience an environment with fewer species of food organisms available.
So, what do we do now?
Though the report is chock full of bad news, it also contains proposals to mitigate a bleak forecast. Among the American Bird Conservancy’s recommendations:
- Ban the use of neonicotinoids as seed treatment.
- Suspend all applications for neonicotinoids pending independent review of the impact on birds, aquatic invertebrates and other wildlife.
- Require manufacturers to develop testing methodology to diagnose poisoned birds and wildlife.
- Expand EPA’s re-registration review beyond honeybees.
As consumers, buying organic food is one way to support farmers who don’t use these chemicals. And knowing what’s in any lawn treatments or household pesticides in your garage can help reduce contamination in your watershed. Do you shop at big box stores? Try writing a letter to their management asking them to join British home improvement giants B&Q and Wickes in removing neonicotinoids from their shelves.
Related stories on MNN:
Beekeepers Sue EPA Over Pesticide Approvals
Honeybees bred at the Tokyo Grain Exchange in Japan.
Bloomberg BNA — A coalition of beekeepers, environmental groups, and consumer groups filed a lawsuit March 21 against the Environmental Protection Agency for approving the registration of pesticides that the groups claim harm honey bees and other pollinators.
The coalition wants EPA to immediately suspend the registrations of the insecticides clothianidin and thiamethoxam. The pesticides have been “repeatedly identified as highly toxic to honey bees, clear causes of major bee kills and significant contributors to the devastating ongoing mortality of bees known as colony collapse disorder,” the groups said.
Clothianidin and its parent compound, thiamethoxam, are in a class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids, and have been shown to harm the survival, growth, and health of honey bees and other pollinators and have harmful effects on other animals, including threatened and endangered species, according to the lawsuit. More than two million pounds of the pesticides are used annually on more than 100 million acres in the United States, according to the lawsuit.
‘The pesticides are mislabeled and directions for use are inadequate to prevent harmful effects on the environment, to beekeepers and honey producers.’
Using the pesticides on corn has led to the death of honeybees and other pollinators, which has caused economic hardship for beekeepers and honey producers, the groups say.
Bayer CropScience, which produces clothianidin, asserts that “there has been a long history of the safe use of neonicotinoid insecticides and it is clear that when they are used responsibly and properly, any impact on bees is negligible.”
Four individual beekeepers and the Center for Food Safety, Beyond Pesticides, the Sierra Club, Pesticide Action Network North America, and the Center for Environmental Health filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
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EPA has approved registrations of the pesticides without providing the opportunity for public comment, thereby violating the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act and the Administrative Procedure Act, the lawsuit says.
The pesticides are mislabeled and directions for use are inadequate to prevent harmful effects on the environment, to beekeepers and honey producers, and to endangered species, the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit also seeks EPA consultation with the Fish and Wildlife Service about the impact of the pesticides on native endangered and threatened species.
The groups filed a notice of intent to sue in September 2012.
Without honeybees, we may cease to be
This article originally appeared on AlterNet.
If you like almonds, then 2013 brought some bad news. Each year, honeybees from across the country make the trek to California, which grows 80 percent of the world’s almonds, to pollinate the almond crop. But bees have been dying in unusually large numbers for several years now, and this year appears worse than most.
The problems we face if we don’t have healthy populations of pollinators, particularly honeybees, extend beyond almonds. Three fourths of the top crops grown in the world require animals – mostly insects – for pollination. Odds are that most of your favorite fruits, nuts and melons are pollinated by honeybees.
Across the pond, the European Union has made major strides in shedding light on the role of certain pesticides in honeybee deaths. In fact, the European Commission has proposed a two-year ban on these pesticides. Meanwhile, at home, beekeepers remain frustrated that the U.S. government is not as forward-thinking. And, for another year, the saga of bee deaths continues.
The pesticides in question are called neonicotinoids. It’s a mouthful, but the root word is “nicotine,” because they are chemically similar to the addicting tobacco compound. The most common of these is a pesticide called imidacloprid. Two others are clothianidin and thiamethoxam.
New York beekeeper Jim Doan ended last year with about 700 hives. He began the year with 900. But those numbers hide larger losses. A beekeeper can increase his or her number of hives by splitting them. Doan did so, building up to 2,300 hives by mid-June.
For a beekeeper, splitting your hives means a certain amount of sacrifice, because two smaller hives replace each larger one, and you must let each hive build up its numbers and its honey before you harvest any yourself. “Now this will be the seventh year of extraordinarily high losses. Every year we’re making up bees but at the sacrifice of not making honey. So both ways you’ve taken a beating and a loss,” says Doan.
From mid-June onward, Doan watched his bees die. By October 15, he had only 1,100 hives. More than half of the colonies that were alive only four months before were now dead. What happened?
One can piece together part of the story based on the bees’ locations and their food sources. Although Doan is a New Yorker, his bees take a Florida vacation each winter. They only reside in New York from April to September. While there, they first pollinate apricots, then cherries, pears, apples, and finally, squash, cucumbers, and pumpkins.
In Florida, the bees spend some time in oranges, but Doan also puts his bees in a non-agricultural area for part of the year “to help build them up and to watch them die again,” as he cynically puts it. “We’re in [parts of ] Florida where there’s no agriculture. And that’s the only time our bees really look good. They look like bees… But it’s frustrating.”
Doan, for his part, is certain he knows what killed his bees. “The problem is corn dust. And I say that without any hesitation in my voice.” He’s referring to the dust expelled as exhaust from the machinery used to plant corn. His state, New York, bans a pesticide called clothianidin, which many blame for bee deaths, but it comes into the state anyway on pre-treated corn seeds. A whopping 94 percentof all corn seeds in the U.S. are treated with neonicotinoids.
“We had 148 hives killed by clothianidin,” says Doan. “We were sitting in apples and they planted field corn nearby and we lost those hives.” He moved his bees away from those apple orchards, but the bees continued dying – this time from a different but related pesticide.
“In July, we had losses. I called the USDA. They took samples, and they came back with one of the highest levels of thiamethoxam in the nation at 39.6 parts per billion (ppb). And the only way you can get thiamethoxam in New York State – you can only get it from corn or from rosy aphid spray [on apples].” At the time, his bees were surrounded by cornfields, and the nearest apples were 30 miles away.
“Those 2,300 [hives] that fell to 1,100, that was almost certainly from thiamethoxam and clothianidin from field corn,” he continues. “CropLife [a pesticide lobby group] will tell you that it takes 80 ppb to kill a bee. My contention is that it doesn’t take that much.”
When first introduced, neonicotinoids were thought to be relatively “environmentally friendly” pesticides. Often they can be applied without spraying, by either treating seeds prior to planting or drenching the soil. The pesticides are taken up by and spread throughout the plants. Every part of the plant – including the pollen and nectar – contain pesticide residues. In theory, these chemicals will only poison “bad bugs” that eat the plants.
A new report published by the European Union’s European Environment Agency chronicles a similar story as it unfolded in France. Back in the 1990s, French beekeepers noticed their bees dying in unprecedented numbers and they connected it to a then-new pesticide used in sunflowers, imidacloprid.
Nailing down the science on how much imidacloprid it takes to kill a bee and how much imidacloprid bees are exposed to was not easy. First, the amounts of imidacloprid in pollen and nectar fell below Bayer’s detection limit of 10 ppb. A decade later, France’s Scientific and Technical Committee for the Multifactor Study of the Honeybee Colonies Decline (CST) validated findings that the pesticide showed up in the pollen of treated sunflowers and maize at the rates of 3.3 ppb and 3.5 ppb, respectively, and in the nectar of treated sunflowers at 1.9 ppb.
Second, as social insects, bees work together, sharing and storing food. A colony might gather nectar and pollen from a source at one time but store it and eat it several weeks later. Forager bees gather pollen but do not eat it. Nurse bees consume pollen to produce jelly as a food for larvae, and larvae eat pollen as well.
And last, the scientists did not always consider chronic or sublethal effects on the bees. For example, a one-time dose of imidacloprid might not kill a bee, but the same dose consumed over 10 days might. Or perhaps a certain dose will never kill a bee outright, but it impacts the bee’s navigation and flight skills so that the bee cannot return to its hive and dies from exposure.
Scientists also lack standardized ways to measure chronic and sublethal effects. Acute lethal effects of a chemical are measured by finding the “LD50,” the dosage required to kill 50 percent of whatever is being studied. But scientists looking for chronic and sublethal effects lacked a common standard to measure their findings.
As any beekeeper will tell you, it is very easy to design a study that “proves” a pesticide doesn’t harm bees. And whether by design or by accident, many studies – often ones funded by the pesticide’s maker, Bayer – concluded that high doses of imidacloprid were needed to cause any harm to honeybees.
In 2001, public scientists (i.e. not funded by Bayer) concluded that feeding bees syrup containing just 0.1 ppb for 10 days would kill 50 percent of them. The next year, Bayer announced that its own studies found “no negative effect can be observed on honeybee colonies” below 20 ppb. In other words, Bayer thinks bees can tolerate 200 times as much imidacloprid without dying (or suffering anyharmful effects) as public scientists found.
The new European report also reveals that Bayer attempted to influence public scientists working on this issue by threatening them with lawsuits or appealing to their superiors.
Even without definitive proof that imidacloprid was to blame for bee die-offs, France banned its use on sunflowers in 1999. Shortly thereafter, Bayer mounted a legal challenge to the ban. Other multinational seed producers like Monsanto and Pioneer weighed in on Bayer’s side. Bayer also sued representatives of beekeepers syndicates for “discrediting” their pesticide. Alas, Bayer lost every time.
By 2003, CST concluded that imidacloprid-treated corn and sunflower seed “poses significant risks for bees.” France’s ban only covered sunflowers (not corn), and the bees were still dying. The stated reason for banning it on only sunflowers was that corn does not make nectar. But corn produces pollen, and bees eat it. CST felt that corn pollen consumption by nurse bees and larvae was a possible explanation for continued bee troubles in France.
A major issue the European report addresses is the synergy between pesticides and diseases or parasites. Beekeepers on both sides of the Atlantic worry that even at sublethal doses, pesticides harm bees’ immune systems. With depressed immune systems, pathogens or parasites that might not otherwise kill bees now do. The report confirms that this is, in fact, the case.
The report concludes, “imidacloprid seems to be a substance particularly ’fit for the precautionary principle’.” It cites the chemicals’ ability to harm honeybees and wild bees at minute doses and its persistence in the soil for several years. Additionally, it notes that after Italy temporarily banned neonicotinoids in several crops, reports of high honeybee mortality decreased from 185 to two.
With Europe’s environmental agency thoroughly examining neonicotinoids’ role in bee die-offs and the European Commission recommending a ban on them, what is the US EPA doing? Allowing the use of a new, unregistered neonicotinoids called sulfoxaflor, and proposing a “conditional registration” for it. (Registration, in pesticide speak, means legalization. Conditional registration means, “Make money by selling it now, and perform the safety tests later.”)
Yup. That’s where we’re at. If you see a beekeeper who has literally torn his hair out, now you know why.
In addition to the role bees play in pollinating crops, they might also be a canary in the coal mine. Bees are more sensitive to environmental pollution than other insects, so – as the new European report puts it – “honeybee losses can be interpreted as an ‘alarm bell’ of harm to other entomofauna [bugs] and indirectly to plants, birds, and other species.”
Last week, the EPA held a Pollinator Summit, which it broadcast as a webinar. Presenters included pesticide makers Bayer and Syngenta, seed companies DuPont Pioneer and Monsanto, agricultural equipment manufacturers, and a corn farmer who spoke about the value of seed treatment with pesticides. A beekeeper spoke for 20 minutes.
The official presentation covered topics like how agribusiness plans to keep using neonicotinoids on seeds but reduce the amount of pesticide-contaminated dust spewed into the environment during planting. This is a nice step, of course, but the pesticide will still pulse through every cell in the plant, including the pollen. And it will enter the soil and remain there for years – except for the percent that seeps into the groundwater.
On the webinar’s online chat program, participants like beekeeper Tom Theobald spoke passionately about the government’s inadequate response to their problems. “We have had 265 minutes of corn planting, seed treatment, and mitigation, 20 minutes from a real working beekeeper, he wrote. “It is not the Environmental Mitigation Agency. Their responsibility is protection. They cannot continue to unleash dangerous chemicals on the environment and then come up with a bunch of shams they call mitigation. The beekeepers are out of time.”
Theobald’s beekeeping business has operated at a loss for several years now, and he expects it will this year, too. His honey crop this year was just 10 percent of what was considered normal before the bees began dying. After the webinar, he said of it, “I want to give the EPA some credit but they’re making it awful hard for me. That summit wasn’t a summit. It was a propagandizing opportunity for the chemical industry.”
He continued, saying, “What they’ve done is they’ve turned the environment into the experiment. The EPA has distorted its sense of its role to this sham they call mitigation. Just release it to the environment… and then purport to mitigate the damages. They’re not mitigating the damages… Who’s in the driver’s seat here? This is horrible mismanagement of a regulatory agency.”
Although there’s little private citizens can do, beyond submitting comments to the EPA about these pesticides, contacting your representatives, and perhaps even getting your own beehive, you might be surprised to find out that these toxic pesticides are widely available for home use. Bayer sells imidacloprid in products sold for use on roses, flowers, shrubs, trees (even fruit and nut trees!), and lawns. Even the flea treatment Advantage sold for your pet contains it!
If you use a landscaping service or hire an arborist, they might have access to even more potent forms of these pesticides. Be sure you know what they are using – and remember that the bees are consuming any nectar or pollen produced by your plants, even if you think of those plants as non-edible.
some how i wandered onto this…
thought it was appropriate here.
Beetles released to attack invasive species
benningtonbanner.com | Dec 7th 2012 1:00 AM
Friday December 7, 2012
KEITH WHITCOMB JR.
POWNAL — About two millimeters long and appearing as black specks, the town’s newest 379 residents are here to hopefully stay and perhaps eat a few unwelcome newcomers.
On Thursday, two people from the Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation released nearly 400 laricobius nigrinus, (Small black beetle) onto four hemlock trees on Mason Hill Road, near the Massachusetts state line and next to a tributary to the Hoosic River. Jim Esden, forestry specialist for the department, said he hopes the adult beetles will survive the winter and feed off the hemlock woolly adelgid, an aphid-like insect that has been spreading slowly northward
and was reported in Pownal over the summer.
The adelgid is an invasive species and threatens the health of hemlock trees, said Esden. The small black beetle, a native of the Pacific northwest, eats nothing but adelgids and follows a similar life cycle, being active in the winter when it is not too cold and remaining largely dormant in the hot summer. Esden said chemicals can be used to kill adelgids, but biological controls have their advantages.
“Because this is a water supply area, we didn’t want to use chemicals,” Esden said.
The four hemlock trees sit off Mason Hill Road on property owned by Williamstown, Mass. Esden said the water source serves as an emergency supply for Williamstown, making the chemical option less than desirable.
Esden said while chemicals act fast and can offer some lasting protection, if these beetles survive the winter and breed they will work indefinitely and spread along with the adelgid. He said he does not expect the beetle will wipe the adelgid out, but will keep the population from growing to the point where the hemlocks are noticeably impacted.
Barbara Burns, forest health program manager for the department, placed about 100 beetles on each hemlock tree, which were selected for their health and adelgid infestation. She said the beetles need enough adelgids to eat, otherwise their population will not take hold. She said the beetles released Thursday were grown in a lab by Virginia Tech, Va., however their ancestors are from Idaho. They came in small tubes, roughly 100 beetles to a tube, and were gathered on white shreds of paper for placement onto each tree.
Esden said the beetles only eat adelgids and nothing in this area specifically preys upon the beetles, so the odds are fair they will not all be eaten by spring. He said this same type of thing was done three years ago in Windham County, but it that is not enough time to tell if the beetles are working. He said their use has been documented in the past and shown to work, and while they are slow to take effect, the spread of the adelgid is not fast, either.
According to Burns, the beetles’ presence in Pownal is the first time they have been seen in Bennington County. They were found by volunteers working through a survey program the state runs and their most visible form is a white, waxy substance that appears on the needled branches of hemlock trees. The adelgids produce this material as they feed on the plant’s fluids.
“We have several acres of infested trees that we know of,” said Burns, adding that she or someone from the forest department will return to the Mason Hill site in about a year to see how things are going.
Original Page: http://pocket.co/spwXN
Shared from Pocket
Or you could say it’s a Pyrrharctia isabella winter predictor ! (Just doesn’t have the same ring to it does it ?)
This little guy is said to be a predictor of winter weather. The old folks claim that the wider the middle brown section of the caterpillar, the milder the coming winter will be. A skinny band is said to predict a rough winter. I don’t see ANY brown band on this guy. Does that mean a harsh winter?
Now this is just a folklore thing. But those old farmer guys seem to be pretty serious about this type of stuff.
So is this guy right? It’s gonna be a harsh winter? And by harsh do they mean harsh on the kids that get off school and play in the snow? Snowballs. Snowmen. Sledding. Or harsh on the parents that have to put up with these crazy kids, crazy drivers? Or harsh on the poor guy outside, shoveling your sidewalk.
Andrew Freiden? Any meteorological professional opinion?