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
Most New Yorkers agree that one of the best aspects of winter is the total absence of pesky, flying bugs outside. Freezing temperatures and an extraordinarily dry atmosphere that would desiccate any fragile-bodied organism combine to prevent such smaller forms of life from becoming active during this harsh season in our northern climate.
Occasionally, a spider, housefly, or lady bug may be noticed throughout the winter, especially in a kitchen or a room with a large window that faces the early afternoon sun. Much to the surprise of most individuals, another bug that may be encountered while in a warm, indoor location this season is the female anopheles mosquito. [Read more…] about Mosquitos in Winter?
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
On a clear mid-winter day several years ago, my student Sarah Wakefield and I pulled on snowshoes, donned backpacks, and headed up through Smugglers’ Notch in Vermont.
Our destination was Big Spring, which rises from Mount Mansfield’s bedrock before flowing east for 100 yards and entering a culvert under Route 108. When it emerges from the culvert, the spring water joins a stream fed by surface runoff and snowmelt. [Read more…] about Life In Groundwater Fed Springs in Winter
Most of the invertebrates that populate this climatic zone are well suited to deal with sudden thaws in winter by experiencing a type of dormancy known as diapause.
In summer, when temperatures are ideal and there is an abundance of food, the countless species of bugs continually eat and then reproduce. But as environmental conditions begin to change, most species prepare for that time when food eventually vanishes and when temperatures cause the transition of water into ice. [Read more…] about Diapause: How Insects Survive A Winter Thaw
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
I consider the lack of biting insects and other invertebrates, to be a wondrous gift of the winter season.
I can wander unmolested through wood and field absent the attentions of mosquitoes, deer flies, and ticks. And aside from a short list of “usual suspects,” insects are a rarity to be encountered in the winter woods. [Read more…] about How Insects Spend A New York Winter
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
My son, wise beyond his years it would seem, taught me an invaluable lesson when he was a teenager living at home. Any time I got worked into a froth about a broken car, leaky roof or other serious, but non-cataclysmic setback, he’d put things in perspective for me: “Pops, it could always be worse – you could be on fire.” [Read more…] about Giant ‘Murder’ Hornets: Great News About Bad News