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Want More Bugs?

butterfly on girls nose
Photo: The Maritime Aquarium of Norwalk

Are you looking for more bug related activities, and can’t wait for Bug Week? We’ve pulled together a few things of interest for you:

WayBack Burgers is offering Cricket Milkshakes. WNPR and the Daily Share both had news stories about it. The milkshakes are only offered for a limited time, stop and visit a Wayback Burger before September to try one.

The “Flutter Zone” is a special exhibit of live butterflies from Asia and South America at the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk. The Aquarium is also offering ‘Flight of the Butterflies’ in IMAX through September 7th.

Million Pollinator Garden Challenge

Million Pollinator logoPollinators are responsible for 1 out of 3 bites of food we take each day, and yet pollinators are at critical point in their own survival. Many reasons contribute to their recent decline. We know for certain, however, that more nectar and pollen sources provided by more flowering plants and trees will help improve their health and numbers. Increasing the number of pollinator-friendly gardens and landscapes will help revive the health of bees, butterflies, birds, bats and other pollinators across the country.
The Million Pollinator Garden Challenge (MPGC) is a nationwide call to action to preserve and create gardens and landscapes that help revive the health of bees, butterflies, birds, bats and other pollinators across America. We will move millions of individuals, kids and families outdoors and make a connection between pollinators and the healthy food people eat.
Pollinators Gardens Should
  • use plants that provide nectar and pollen sources
  • provide a water source,
  • be situated in sunny areas with wind breaks
  • create large “pollinator targets” of native or non-invasive plants
  • establish continuous bloom throughout the growing season
  • eliminate or minimize the impact of pesticides.
The MPGC mobilizes America’s extensive gardening community, and supports them in making more native and non-invasive pollen and nectar producing plants available in their gardens.  The Challenge increases their understanding of the critical role that such actions can play in reversing declining pollinator populations.

The Oriental Beetle

Photo and article by Joan Allen

Oriental Beetle
Oriental Beetle on lettuce. Photo: Joan Allen

Last week, an adult Oriental beetle was spotted on some lettuce in our vegetable garden. This in itself is not really a big deal because, unlike Japanese and Asiatic garden beetles, these adults are not voracious feeders and don’t typically require control. It can be important for a couple of other reasons though, to note the annual emergence of this species. One is that it typically precedes the emergence of the Japanese beetle by 1-2 weeks, so it’s a heads-up to be on the lookout for them. The other is that the larvae or grub stage of the Oriental beetle can cause significant damage to the roots of cool season turfgrasses and some ornamental plants including those in pots.

The adults are 3/8 to 7/16” long and have quite variable color and markings. They can range from light tan to dark brown and many have alternating dark and light line patterns on the wing covers (elytra). After emerging in mid to late June in southern New England, beetles feed and mate. Females lay eggs a few inches deep in moist soil in small groups for a total of 20-30 eggs per individual. If drought conditions prevail, egg-laying may be delayed as long as into September. Grubs hatch 18-24 days later under average temperature and weather conditions and feed on roots and organic matter near the soil surface. As grubs increase in size and grow through three instars or stages, the amount of damage done to host plants increases too. Third instar larvae overwinter deep in the soil (8-17”). They migrate upward and resume feeding when the soil warms in the spring. After feeding for 4-5 weeks, the grubs pupate and transform into adults, completing the annual life cycle.

If you are concerned (or know) that white grubs, the larvae of Oriental, Japanese and several other scarab beetles, are damaging your lawn or other plants, it is important to correctly identify the beetle species for selection of the most effective control strategies. Pheromone traps are available to monitor for the presence of adult male Oriental beetles. Because these traps only attract males, they do not have the potential to increase damage in the area as Japanese beetle traps can. Identification of white grubs to species requires a close look at their little rumps. Using a hand lens, inspect the pattern of ‘hairs’ on the lower side. The Oriental beetle grub has two parallel rows of small hairs down the middle.

How do you know if you have enough grubs to warrant a control product? For Oriental beetle, thresholds of 8-10 grubs per square foot of lawn are suggested. Peel back a one-foot square section of turf and check the soil and roots for grubs. White grubs will be in a C shape. They’re going to be most numerous and problematic in sunny areas. Don’t forget about grub identification!

Management strategies include cultural practices, biocontrols and chemical insecticides. For both biocontrol and most chemical products, the early instar or youngest grubs are the most vulnerable and therefore the most easily controlled. More information on these can be found at these links:

http://www.beyondpesticides.org/alternatives/factsheets/Grubs.pdf

http://www.ct.gov/caes/cwp/view.asp?a=2815&q=376940

Connecticut claim to fame: The Oriental beetle was first confirmed in the United States here in 1920. It didn’t appear to spread much until around the 1970s. Since then it has expanded its U.S. distribution to include most of the east coast and extending westward to Ohio.

If you need assistance with grub or beetle identification, or control tips, contact the UConn Home & Garden Education Center by phone at 860-486-6271 or by email at ladybug@uconn.edu.

Bug Events with Greenwich Audobon

Wednesday, July 1

Fireflies – Nature’s Mini-Fireworks

8:30-9:30 pm

An ideal time of the year to learn about these special insects. Learn how and why fireflies flash and then try your skills at telling the species apart by looking at the different patterns made by the different firefly species. All ages. Space limited. RSVP to Ted at 203-869-5272 x353.

 

Sunday, July 5

North American Butterfly Count

Introduction: 10:30-11:00 am

Field Counts: 11:00 am-5:00 pm

Start with an introduction to local butterflies and learn how to count scientifically from 10:30-11:00 and then head out on the Audubon Center grounds to view our butterfly-friendly habitat and conduct the count. No charge. Ages 7 & up. RSVP required to Ted at 203-869-5272 x353 by July 3. (Rain Date: TBA)

 

Sunday, July 12

Family Pond Exploration

2:00-3:30 pm

Join Audubon naturalists and get up close to frogs, dragonflies and many other species that call our nearby pond home. All ages. Equipment will be provided.  Space limited. RSVP requested to 203-869-5272 x349 or email to: greenwichcenter@audubon.org.

 

Saturday, July 25

All about Dragonflies & Damselflies

10:00-11:30 am

Join Audubon field biologist Sean Graesser when he teaches about our local dragonfly and damselfly species. Start with a slide show indoors and then hit the trails in search of these magnificent, air-born predators whose lives begin underwater! RSVP requested to 203-869-5272 x349 or email to: greenwichcenter@audubon.org.

Saturday, August 1:  

Dragon & Damselflies Survey

A Citizen Science Initiative 

Intro at 10:30 & Field Survey: 11:00 am-5:00 pm

Become a citizen scientist by joining a day-long search for local dragonflies and damselflies! This annual survey on the Audubon Greenwich grounds is a great way to witness the wide variety of species living on-site and found throughout our region. Ages 7 & up. RSVP required to Ted at 203-869-5272 x353 by July 31.

 

August 1 & 2

Summertime Honey Harvest

11:00 am-4:00 pm

Each summer, beekeepers across the nation harvest honeycomb from their hives and spin the comb so they can bottle and sell the sweet treat. How do they do it? Come see when local beekeepers from the Backyard Beekeepers Club share their secrets. Stop in between 11 AM and 4 PM to see, to help and to taste! Honey and related products will be sold on-site, but supplies are limited.  All ages & no RSVP required. Audubon Members: FREE! Non-members pay only the regular admission: $3/adult or $1.50/child or Senior.

 

Sunday, August 2

Family Pond Exploration

2:00-3:30 pm

Join Audubon naturalists and get up close to frogs, dragonflies and many other species that call our nearby pond home. All ages. Equipment will be provided.  Space limited. RSVP requested to 203-869-5272 x349 or email to: greenwichcenter@audubon.org.

# # #

UNLESS OTHERWISE INDICATED, NATURE PROGRAM FEES ARE:

Members: $3.00/person & Non-members: $5.00/person

(Includes Trail & Center admission)

National Pollinator Week

pw15logoFINAL2Pollinator Week was initiated and is managed by the Pollinator Partnership.

Eight years ago the U.S. Senate’s unanimous approval and designation of a week in June as “National Pollinator Week” marked a necessary step toward addressing the urgent issue of declining pollinator populations.  Pollinator Week has now grown to be an international celebration of the valuable ecosystem services provided by bees, birds, butterflies, bats and beetles. The growing concern for pollinators is a sign of progress, but it is vital that we continue to maximize our collective effort.  The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture signs the proclamation every year.

The Pollinator Partnership is also proud to announce that June 15-21, 2015 has been designated National Pollinator Week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Pollinator Partnership is proud to announce that June 15-21, 2015 has been designated National Pollinator Week by the U.S. Department of Interior.

Pollinating animals, including bees, birds, butterflies, bats, beetles and others, are vital to our delicate ecosystem, supporting terrestrial wildlife, providing healthy watershed, and more. Therefore, Pollinator Week is a week to get the importance of pollinators’ message out to as many people as possible. It’s not too early to start thinking about an event at your school, garden, church, store, etc. Pollinators positively effect all our lives- let’s SAVE them and CELEBRATE them! 

Citizen Scientists Needed

Citizen Scientists Needed for the Vanishing Firefly Project

By Erin Weeks

Originally Published on EntomologyToday.org

 

photinus-pyralis-awFinding a mate can be hard enough in the animal kingdom, but nocturnal creatures face an added difficulty — locating potential partners in the dark. It’s a problem many insects have solved by evolving an array of mating signals that engage all of the senses: crickets chirp, moths follow pheromone trails, fireflies glow and blink.

These signals don’t just attract other insects — they’ve also become cultural touchstones for humans. Singing crickets have been immortalized in folklore across the globe, and, at least in the West, “lightning bugs” are part of what makes hot summer nights so evocative and nostalgia-inducing.

“That’s the best thing about fireflies, they’re something people around the world have strong feelings for,” said Juang-Horng “JC” Chong, an entomologist at Clemson University in South Carolina. Those strong feelings launched Chong and another Clemson professor, Alex Chow, on a project that’s turned a simple question — are fireflies disappearing? — into a national census of the iconic insect and a citizen-science success story.

The Vanishing Firefly Project began in 2010, not long after biogeochemist Chow experienced a firefly light show for the first time. Chow, who grew up in brightly lit Hong Kong, arrived at a plantation-turned-wildlife refuge on the coast of South Carolina to study nutrient dynamics. The fireflies in the rural area put on an impressive spectacle that spring. But Chow noticed fewer fireflies after prescribed burns of the property’s forest, and he wondered if there was a correlation between the insect’s habitat use and its abundance.

Read more…

The Untimely Death of a Worm

By Catherine Hallisey

Connecticut FoodCorps

 

worm-maple street school
Students at Maple Street School in Vernon love worms for helping their garden grow! Photo: Catherine Hallisey

As I was kneeling by a raised garden bed, planting snap peas with a couple of students, I heard a third grader scream “NOOOOOO!” from the other side of the garden.  An array of thoughts immediately sped through my mind in the split second it took me to get over to her section of the garden—

“Is she hurt?”

“Did someone pull a kale plant thinking it was a weed?”

“Did she accidentally pour the watering can on herself instead of our radishes?”

It turned out none of the above scenarios were what caused a quiet eight year old to yell out in fright.  When I reached her side, she had a small trowel in one hand, and a half of an earthworm in the other.  The rest of the earthworm, I presume, was somewhere left in the soil of the garden bed she had been weeding in.

This girl was absolutely heart broken that she had killed a worm.  Obviously, I too was a little upset- here I had a distraught girl in the garden, and, a dead worm.  However, I was also proud. I was proud because this student had taken to heart our number one garden rule “respect all living things” — fellow classmates, beautiful sunflowers, tasty strawberries, slimy worms, scary beetles, buzzing bees, and much, much more.    She knew that worms were good for our soil, and therefore our plants, and was disappointed that she had killed a beneficial creature.  I consoled her by explaining there were a lot of worms in our garden, and it wasn’t that big of a deal.  She decided to be more careful in the future, and then gathered the rest of the group to give the worm a proper burial in the compost bin.

 

What’s All the Buzz?

 

BMSB PennState
Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. Photo: Penn State

 

Come join UConn Extension this summer for our annual Bug Week from July 20th -25th. All ages are welcome to attend and explore the activities and events dedicated to insects and their relatives. Bug Week programs include:

For a full schedule of events, please visit our website at www.bugs.uconn.edu

 

Bugs are the unsung heroes of our ecosystem, providing services such as pollination and natural pest control. However, bugs don’t stop at environmental benefits. They have also impacted our culture through the manufacturing of silk, sources of dyes, wax and honey production, food sources, and the improvement of building materials and structures. There are also problem bugs, like the Emerald Ash Borer and Brown Marmorated Stink Bug who are a concern in Connecticut. Visit our website at www.bugs.uconn.edu for featured insects and resources.

 

UConn Extension offices are spread across the state and offer an array of services dedicated to educating and informing the public on innovative technology and scientific improvements. Bug Week is one example of UConn Extension’s mission in tying research to real life by addressing insects and some of their relatives.

For more information on Bug Week, please visit our website at www.bugs.uconn.edu or email bugweek@uconn.edu or call 860-486-9228.