Agroforestry

Photo Courtesy of the NY Times

 

An interesting project in Montana and a great display as a demonstration garden. Agricultural sustainability seems to be more than just a buzz word lately. Find more on Gloria Flora’s work here.

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Marco…

Polo!  We found it!  The lost ladybug!  After decades of elusiveness, the nine-spotted ladybug, Coccinella novemnotata, state insect of New York, has been on a Long Island organic farm.

Crazier and Hairier

They’re crazy and hairy and they’ve received a lot of press lately in the news and the blogosphere… ANTS!  These ones, Nylanderia pubens, seem to be quite a nuisance to those living in the southern parts of the United States.  They’re, well, crazy, and hairy.

As you can see in the video above, they move very quickly and can deliver a nasty bite.  They exhibit super colony characteristics (like the Argentine ant), meaning they are not aggressive toward other colonies.  If there’s a silver lining this the dark cloud, it’s that they may outcompete fireants.  Oh yeah, and they tend membracids!

Photo Courtesy of Mississippi Entomological Museum

Genius

Robert Krulwich of Radiolab was recently awarded the Macarthur Genius grant.  Bravo!

His most recent post on Krulich Wonders, an NPR blog, presents a beautiful and delicious meal.  Complementary dishes for vegetarians and meat eaters, what Studiofeast calls their Doppleganger Dinner.  Looks like something I could really get behind… Duck breast with celery and sweet potato vs. grilled watermelon with fennel and carrots.

Image courtesy of NPR

 

Not only does this seem like a fun culinary exercise, it makes a statement about vegetarian diets.  That doesn’t seem so bad in light of our expanding agricultural environmental footprint (more on that later).

Revival

What’s the opposite of over-wintering?  I’m not entirely sure, but I’ve been on hiatus and it is finally time to emerge post-field season.  Wahoo!

A short and sweet update today before I rush off to do graduate student things like take exams (wait, I thought those weren’t applicable anymore?).  The beauty of subscribing to a daily email about Good things happening in the world: keeping up on bee trends!  If you’re into beekeeping or an aspiring beekeeper like me, check out this article about modifying urban hives.

Leek Moth

The best part about an online magazine, is that they send you emails only if you want them.  And in the case of Saveur, I get tasty recipes to try on a regular basis.  Last week, a number of recipes for a Summer Vegetarian Feast filled my email inbox.  One was a delicious leek and zucchini galette, combining great flavor and seasonality.

There are leeks growing alongside my onions in some fields.  Some of the growers I work with have a few different Allium species growing including garlic and leek.  These crops could be subject to leek moth infestation, but leek moth is currently only known in certain areas of New York and Canada (in North America).  An invasive species from Europe, leek moth,  Acrolepiopsis assectella, is a small, brown to black moth with yellow-green caterpillars.  The pupae are small cocoons with a distinct lacy casing.

Adult Leek Moth courtesy of AgroAtlas

Leek moth pupal casing

Leek moth damage include mining and perforations in the leaf, with window-paning damage where the caterpillar has not eaten all the way through all layers of the leaf tissue.

Leek moth damage

While there are no chemical treatments yet in New York, cultural treatments such as crop rotation, row covers, and removing vegetative debris at the end of the season are recommended.  In Canada, a parasitoid wasp  Diadromus pulchellus was released as a biological control agent as part of an integrated pest management approach to control leek moth.  Perhaps that may be an option for leek moth control here as well.

 

Light bright

Until last weekend, I had never seen a firefly (except for the television show by Joss Whedon).  Geographic location, time of year, weather, all these things had simply not aligned to allow me to experience the magical wonder of a firefly show.

Fireflies, or lightning bugs, are not actually flies or true bugs.  They’re actually beetles in the family Lampyridae.  This looks like the little critter that I caught over the weekend, as fireworks were flying overhead.  In unprepared entomologist fashion, I stuck it in an empty Mentos gum container since I didn’t have a vial.  You could see the glow through the plastic even though it wasn’t see through.

Photo Courtesy of Cirrus Images

The glow, or bioluminescence, is the result of a chemical reaction in the abdomen of the beetle.  The color can vary  along a spectrum from yellow to green to pale red.  Both males and females flash in a call and response type of mate selection.  Species specific flash patterns and durations allow females to distinguish their gentlemen callers and respond only to their species. In the case of Photuris species however, females mimic another species response to lure the males as prey.  The poor little guys, I’m sure they thought everything was just shiny.

Photo courtesy of Beneficialbugs.org