Friday, March 30, 2012

Green Bugs and Oak Pollen - Coincidence?

By now, you must have noticed little tiny, green, almost speckled bugs flying around where ever there are oak trees. If you haven't, you must not have been outside in the past week!

These tiny bugs are true bugs, and part of a very large family of plant bugs, Miridae. These bugs are likely feeding on the pollen from the oak trees. They have piercing, sucking mouthparts, but even in large amounts will cause very little to no damage to your oaks.

At this point, they are just a nuisance and we have to wait them out. When the oak trees stop pollinating, the bugs will go away, and (hopefully) so will our allergies!

*photo courtesy of Duane Westerlund

Monday, March 19, 2012

Humongous Grubs in my Soil - Good or Bad?

If you are digging around in your yard, getting your beds ready for your spring gardens, you may have stumbled across some very scarey, very large grubs. These are Rhino Beetle Grubs and for the most part, completely harmless.

In fact, we often consider them to be beneficial because they are composters in the soil - breaking down dead roots and other materials into good organic matter. If they are found in the soil, I consider them to be indicators of good soil quality.

I would leave them alone, let them live and continue to turn your ordinary soil into soil full of good organic matter. Rhino Beetles Grubs will not eat the roots of your plants (unless the roots are dead), and if you find them in tree roots its because the roots are rotten and they are breaking them down.

The only time I would consider Rhino Beetle Grubs to be harmful is around palms, and this is usually because you have too much mulch and are over-watering the plants.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Insectmania at the Insectarium

This week, I had the pleasure of taking a little vacation to New Orleans. I love New Orleans like some people just love to visit New York, and once I heard they had opened a one-of-a-kind Insectarium, I knew I had to return. So I did, and I dragged my little family along. For anyone that is a lover of insects and enjoys educational museums, this really is a gem. There was so much information, interactive displays, beautiful collections, and living specimens packed into this relatively small museum. I had so much fun, I was actually able to ignore the screaming baby, eye rolling husband, and bratty four year old I was towing along!

The first stop on my big adventure was an exhibit they called Bug Camp (or something similar). It was a display of various ways to collect insects. I actually learned of a new collection tool for butterfly baiting, that I'm pretty sure I will use during my summer camps this year.

The artistic displays of preserved specimens was amazing! This display is made up of beetles arranged to make a beetle. Putting a collection together like this is my new goal.

This amazing display showed a pantry infested with cockroaches. It was amazing to see the damage the cockroaches can do to our food products. This is something I really wish I could replicate to show during trainings.

No insect experience is complete without a nice bug snack. The Insectarium was complete with insect cooking demonstrations and all! My 23 month old popped the cookie like it was nothing - the four year on the other hand, was NOT into it.
Wow! What a great time!