Wednesday, August 31, 2016

In the thick of it...

We have been on our hands and knees sampling vegetation in our hemlock restoration plots for the past 2 weeks.

Andy checking out the ground layer vegetation in one of our control plots.

It is amazing what you can see when you stop and look for a while.  Our treatment plots are only approximately 10 square meters in size, but contain an array of eye-catching organisms.

 Likely an eastern tiger swallowtail caterpillar. 

Medeola virginiana, also called Indian cucumber root.

Two saddleback caterpillars, Acharia stimulea (I think).

The always distinctive Praying mantis.

 This parasitic wasp is Pelecinus polyturator.

What appears to be vertebrae and ribs from a snake kill.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Adelgid in the news...

Hemlock woolly adelgid is fit to print!

Mountain Xpress, a local publication out of Asheville, recently did a story on the adelgid and featured a cooperator of ours from the Hemlock Restoration Initiative.

Read the article article here and you will also hear what our very own Dr. Albert "Bud" Mayfield III had to add to the conversation.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Additional traps have just gone up...

I was back in Tennessee this week installing additional traps for walnut twig beetle.  Our funnel traps haven't yielded any beetles thus far this summer, so we are baiting fresh walnut bolts with lures in hopes of enticing the critters.  Along with lures, we attached sticky cards on each bolt so we can get an idea of just what insects we are attracting.

A black walnut bolt loaded up with walnut twig beetle lures and a sticky card.
We are throwing everything we can in suspect trees, hoping to pick up on some walnut twig beetle activity.  Last summer, we observed a real spike in beetle activity during the month of August.  We are hoping to see the same this year, if not, then we will be re-thinking our planned experiments for September and October.

One of the black walnut plantations we are working in outside of Knoxville, TN.

Monday, July 18, 2016

What's cooking this month?

Black walnut branch sections will be dipped in wax to seal in moisture.

Our lab inventory often reads like a list for a camping trip... saw, stove, propane, pot, spoon, etc.  But recently what we have been cooking in the field are small vats of paraffin wax.  We are preparing for another experiment involving the, now elusive, walnut twig beetle.  After several experiments, we have figured out that the beetles find it hard to resist a fresh, baited black walnut "bolt".  These 1-foot long branch sections, which we refer to as "bolts", come from a hazard tree that was just removed from our Bent Creek property.  Waxing the ends of these bolts assures us the most fresh sample possible. 

 Cooperators at a field site in TN hoisting a funnel trap in to a tree canopy.

Early in the month of June I was at a federal property in Tennessee setting up Lindgren funnel traps.  Yep, that small black and white thing making its way into the tree-top.  Bud and I (along with another cooperator) also deployed several sets of large, fresh bolts (3-ft sections) into about a dozen trees in and around Knoxville.  The beetles have been hard to find this year, which is good news for black walnut trees and landowners who have been affected by recent infestations, but makes running field experiments difficult.  We are hoping to pick up some activity soon for experiments we would like to initiate in September.

We will keep you posted.


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Bug Day at the Kent House

Great work Stacy and JoAnne! 
This is a huge annual event hosted by the USFS folks in Pineville, Louisiana.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Silver flies...

We were in Tennessee this week with cooperators from Vermont releasing these beauties onto heavily adelgid-infested eastern hemlock trees. 

A silver fly (Leucopis spp.) adult as seen under the microscope.

A heavily infested hemlock branch with 2 generations of adelgid.

Silver flies are native to the Western U.S. and are a predator of hemlock adelgids in those forests.  I was fortunate to be part of the team that released the very first silver flies in the eastern U.S. at this very same site last year.  We had promising results from that experiment and are hoping for more of the same this year.  

Counting adelgid along stem sections on hemlock branches.

Hemlock branches are labeled and adelgids are counted.

Releasing silver fly adults into a sleeve cage.

I will return in about one month to collect our first set of branches and we will see if the flies were able to feed and successfully reproduce.  Our cooperators from Vermont will set up another set of replicates in New York later this month.  We are working the western and northern edges of the hemlock woolly adelgid infestation. 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

A spring in our step...

One of the many field experiments we currently have running deals with restoring hemlock trees to the landscape.  When we finally do solve the hemlock woolly adelgid puzzle, land managers of all sorts and sizes will want to restore their hemlock forests.

A bucket of fertilizer rests against one of our planted hemlock trees.

 Just this week I was fertilizing planted hemlocks at field sites in a an experiment designed to answer some questions regarding how best to get healthy hemlocks back in the forest.  Trees were planted at the tail end of 2013.  Some were treated with insecticides protecting them from the adelgid and some were not.  Some were fertilized, others were not.  A combination of all treatments was used on some seedlings, then others had nothing done to them.  We are taking annual measurements in an effort to find out what treatments grow the healthiest trees.

 A birds nest propped in the young, but sturdy branches of a hemlock seedling.

I was pleasantly reminded that species other than adelgids use our hemlock trees.  

 Eastern tent caterpillar crawling on a hemlock branch.

Please meet Malacosoma americanum, the eastern tent caterpillar.  You have probably noticed the silk tents that these critters construct on many of the broad-leaved trees this time of year. 

For The Future
Planting trees early in spring,
we make a place for birds to sing
in time to come. How do we know?
They are singing here now.
There is no other guarantee
that singing will ever be

-Wendell Berry