In general I’m rather positive about immigrants, but not the six-legged kind. Many of the insects which have made themselves at home here over the past few decades show up with interesting and colorful names like emerald ash borer, velvet longhorned beetle, and spotted lantern fly. Amusing monikers or not, this is a ménagerie of mischief-makers, and one of the more recent arrivals is quite a foul character indeed. [Read more…] about Another Invasive: Samurais and Stinkers
Some foods give you gas, but March is the time of year when gas gives you a delicious food. Maple syrup, which is nutritious enough to be listed by the US Department of Agriculture as a food, is carbon dioxide-powered. If it wasn’t for a bunch of little gas bubbles in the wood or xylem tissue, maple sap would not flow.
Who knew that trees were carbonated? [Read more…] about Sugaring Season: Maple Sap Runs On Gas
No offense, but Franklin D. Roosevelt should maybe bug off with his assertion that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” because fear is good for gardeners and farmers. According to entomologists Nicholas Aflitto and Jennifer Thaler of the Cornell University-based New York State Integrated Pest Management Program (NYSPIM), it can be harnessed as a weapon against destructive pests. Turns out it’s possible to scare harmful insects out of gardens and crop fields. [Read more…] about Fear and Gardening in Pest Management
As if today’s war on science wasn’t bad enough, it seems researchers have been courting further bad press by admitting they’ve spent countless hours on lunacy studies. To clarify, this research is on lunar effects on our behavior and sleep – I don’t know of any work being done to analyze sheer foolishness and irrational acts, the other kind of lunacy. Given the events that dominated the news this January, though, maybe that would be a fair line of inquiry. [Read more…] about The Science of Lunar Lunacy
I watched the 1993 film Groundhog Day featuring Bill Murray quite a few times. Or at least it felt that way. Just as February 2nd was on a nonstop loop in the movie, Groundhog Day 2021 felt pretty much the same as previous ones. Really, it’s a perfect holiday for early February as we struggle to resist the urge to hibernate. At this time of year, each morning holds the same ritual: we stumble out, semi-conscious, in the morning to defrost the car, shivering under an unchanging gray sky, wondering what day of the week it is. We probably couldn’t handle an exciting holiday this early in the year. [Read more…] about Groundhogs, Again
Catnip (Nepeta cataria), a member of the mint family which has marked opioid-like effects on cats, and mild sedative effects on humans. It can be found in many herbal tea blends designed to help with stress or insomnia.
Native to Europe, Africa and Asia, catnip long ago became naturalized in the Americas, and now grows pretty much everywhere except for the Arctic and high elevations. In fact, if you live in the country, you likely have some growing on your land. [Read more…] about Stoned Cats Repel Mosquitos
If you were to confide in a friend that you’ve seen dust-bunnies under the bed come to life, and that you think masked hunters have been stalking you at night inside your house, well, hopefully that’s a REAL good friend. Of course they’d feel a lot better once you explained that masked hunters are a type of assassin bug belonging to the order Hemiptera (true bugs). [Read more…] about Masked Hunters: Insect Assassins Lurking in the Shadows
It must be hard to foster a decent public image if your family was responsible for spreading the plagues across Europe, Asia and North Africa that killed between 75 and 200 million people. If rats were able to launch a rebranding campaign, it would never work. I imagine that even NetReputation.com would throw up their hands and give a refund. [Read more…] about Rats! The Frenemy Among Us
As a card-carrying, registered tree hugger, I have long touted the benefits of trees such as carbon storage, energy savings and improved mental health. And beyond the familiar tree-related blessings such as maple syrup, lumber and firewood, I’ve written about some obscure things like birch-based candy that fights tooth decay, and health-promoting chaga tea derived from a birch fungus. Then there’s basswood bark for fiber, elm bark for baskets, and pine bark for lunch.
That stuff is all pretty straightforward. More highly processed wood products, though, are a mystery to me. [Read more…] about Super Wood: Coming To Space Near You
They’re devilishly intriguing, but fireflies, or lightning bugs as they are sometimes called, are angelic to watch. I have yet to hear of a single person who isn’t fascinated by the show that these glow-in-the-dark beetles put on. In the right location it can seem like a swirling, blinking Milky Way has come to visit. [Read more…] about Fireflies: Fairy Lights and Princesses of Darkness