Occasionally I get an email from a camp, school, or even my local Rotary asking if I can present a program on insects. So it was not unusual last week for me to be handing insect nets to excited Cub Scouts. I led them toward some ash trees and made sure each Scout had an insect to examine under the microscope. Our field trip ended beneath a maple, where a parent had pointed out a profusion of caterpillars. [Read more…] about The Northeast’s Lymantria dispar Outbreak
This spring, there has been larger-than-usual gypsy moth populations and leaf damage in several parts of New York State. Gypsy moths are non-native but are naturalized, meaning they will always be around in our forests.
Their populations spike in numbers roughly every 10 to 15 years, but these outbreaks are usually ended by natural causes such as disease and predators. Because of this, the State typically does not manage them and does not provide funding for treating gypsy moths on private property. [Read more…] about Science Behind Our Gypsy Moth Caterpillar Outbreak
In 1860, a year after publication of his seminal work on the origin of species, Charles Darwin wrote to a friend, “At the moment, I care more about Drosera than the origin of all the species in the world.”
Darwin maintained a lifelong fascination with carnivorous plants, including members of the genus Drosera, collectively called sundews. His research into these fascinating species led to the 1875 publication of Insectivorous Plants, which remains a major reference work today. [Read more…] about Insectivorous Plants: Sundews
While working around the home this summer, it is not unusual to notice the papery nest of a wasp tucked under the eaves, hidden behind a loose shutter, or placed in some other protected spot. While an encounter with this type of structure may temporarily disrupt a painting project or repair work, such a sanctuary is vital to the summer success of these familiar yellow and black insects, and should be left alone if at all possible as wasps play a role in helping to control the populations of numerous insects, spiders and other bugs. [Read more…] about New York Insects: Paper Wasps
Janet Hayward Burnham, of Bethel, Vermont, was driving to the bank one day when she saw a tree on the side of the road that looked like it was covered in decorative webbing, “cans and cans” of it, as if for Halloween. However, it was June. [Read more…] about Web of Mystery: Euonymus Caterpillars
Shortly before apple blossoms open and honeysuckle flowers emerge from their buds, queen bumble bees awaken from their winter dormancy and begin the chore of establishing the small colony over which they will reign throughout the coming growing season. [Read more…] about The Hardy Bumble Bee
A screened-in porch is an ideal place to relax on a summer evening. The tight, wire mesh that covers the walls allows the enjoyment of nature’s unique fragrances and wildlife sounds without the harassment of mosquitoes and other flying nocturnal pests.
However, during the early parts of summer, there is one bug that can detract from the ambiance. Biting midges are small enough to pass through traditional screens, allowing them access to any individual wanting to enjoy the evening. [Read more…] about Bug Season: Biting Midges
On sunny, warm days, house flies hatch and buzz around homes and offices. These flies complete aerobatic stunts that easily evade human efforts at swatting or shooing. That aerial agility, so frustrating to the would-be swatters, is thanks to a pair of highly specialized sense organs called halteres. [Read more…] about Flight Control Science of Flies
This year, entomologists predict large populations of cicadas to appear across 15 states for a few weeks beginning around mid-May. This “Brood X” (the Great Eastern Brood) is a periodical group of cicadas that emerge every 17 years.
New York State is at the most northern extent of the range of Brood X and in recent emergences, only Long Island has been affected, usually in low numbers or non-existent. While New York State will most likely not see many Brood X cicadas this year, neighboring states to the south and west could see billions. [Read more…] about When & Where NYS Can Expect The Next Periodical Cicadas
One spring, following heavy rain, I visited the Saint Michael’s College Natural Area in Vermont hoping to capture exciting photographs of the rushing Winooski River. Rather than raging floodwaters, however, I found the river’s floodplain was efficiently – and slowly – accommodating the onslaught of rainwater. [Read more…] about Rivers, Wetlands and Floodwaters