A mystery began to nag at me. Some trees in the hottest areas within cities were covered in insect pests and still looked vigorous, while other trees with the same pest densities withered.
Urban yards can be tough for bees. There are often not enough flowers, or the wrong kinds of flowers, so people compensate with pollinator gardens. However, cities are also hot, due to impervious surfaces and the urban heat island effect.
Unless you want an itchy rash, your best bet is to steer clear of these little critters altogether. And if you’re a couple of scientists trying to insert a data logger into a nest filled with two hundred of them? Well, your best bet is to suit up.
For many years, scientists have used forest maps to focus their predictions about where these itchy caterpillars might spread. But, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the PPM doesn’t actually need forests. It just needs trees, and it’s willing to accept the ones in the front yard, thank you very much.
While the stars of last year’s table were undoubtedly the azalea caterpillars—which were very resilient during a long day of being picked up, and dropped, by visitors of all ages—the azalea bushes were empty when it came time to collect this year.
I will be in Eugene, Oregon for the next few months. Thanks so much to the great folks at University of Oregon Institute of Ecology and Evolution for hosting me and lending me office space.
As resistant American elms are making a comeback on US streets, so are their pests.
I can expect this encounter to go one of two ways. This is a woman with an insatiable appetite for learning, whose scholastic intrigue cannot keep her from asking me what I am doing, OR she is a slightly disgruntled neighbor. She is the latter.
Pink-striped oakworms are chomping on oak trees in Raleigh right now and leaving piles of frass (poop) in their wake. Spot them on your trees by looking for branches with all of their leaves chewed off.
Insects experience the environment at much smaller scales than people do. Some insects may not move more than a block in their lives. We figured bees that can't tolerate heat won't be found in hot parts of town and did a study to determine if that's true.