Three years ago, my field season was so affected by yellowjackets (FIG. 1) that I decided to find out what I could learn about them. Their abundance, activity, what influences populations, etc. It was actually harder than I thought to find information! This was noted by a 2018 paper , where the team investigated 908 published papers over almost 40 years and yep – less than 3% of them were wasp-related (FIG. 2).
“Despite the importance of both taxa, bees are universally loved whilst wasps are universally despised.”
Another attention-grabber headline this month is the hatch of periodical cicadas in the eastern US. “Brood IX” is a 17-year assemblage that was expected, but there are “stragglers” from other groups of 13-year cicadas that are actually 4 years early. This year is unusual because the groups consist of many different species (all in genus Magicicada) and appear to be overlapping geographically. Confused yet? Me too, so I refer you to http://magicicada.org/magicicada/ if you’re interested.
Sounds are produced by specialized structures called tymbals, and can exceed 100 decibels! If you’ve never been lucky(?) enough to hear one, enjoy this video clip:
Cicadas are not ‘locusts’ ( which are a behavioral adaptation of grasshoppers). They’re more closely related to leafhoppers and spittlebugs.
Common cicadas have life cycles between 3 and 5 years. Nymphs (immatures) live underground and feed on tree roots.
If you see a green cicada, it is not a periodical species.
Emergence in the PNW may be related to rainfall: Chatfield-Taylor, W. and Cole, J.A. 2017. Living rain gauges: cumulative precipitation explains the emergence schedules of California protoperiodical cicadas. Ecology 98: 2521-2527.
We do, in fact, have cicadas in Oregon, but they do not occur at nuisance levels. There are ~ 30 species in our region; one of the most encountered is Okanagana oregona (pictured at right).
News & Updates re: Brood X
ARTICLE A great summary by the Entomological Society of America re: Brood X impact, coverage by media, tracking apps, interviews with leading experts, and even a music video! Aug 12, 2021, ESA
VIDEO (00:02:30) Great quality footage and overview, and a University of MD. Emeritus professor describing them as ‘delightful‘. SOURCE: May 17 2021, Reuters
One of my favorite other ‘hats’ is being an Entomology educator for K-5 and guest speaker for Education students who are doing their teaching practica. I was serving in this role last week, and thought I should mention cicadas to the kids, just in case. The morning after our Zoom visit, the teacher sent this picture of a newly eclosed cicada they spotted on a tree. Great catch, Little Wolverines, and I’m so proud of you for being observant!!
We have received many emails this week about ‘home invasions’ of odd-looking bugs. In each case, the culprits were boxelder bugs. Although easily recognized as adults, the partially mature phase (nymphs) can be unfamiliar.
Nymphs and adults aggregate in large groups, especially on light-colored homes with a warm-facing side. The concern for damage on ornamental or fruit trees is low. Rather, these are considered a nuisance pest. The sheer and sudden numbers of them is what causes calls to come in.
Over the past few days, I have seen 300+ cabbage looper moths in traps next to fields that aren’t even out of the ground yet, and been texted twice about flea beetle damage. It seems it will be a busy year for brassica pests!
All the more reason to subscribe! Stay informed by clicking here. We do not share your information, and many of the pests we report on have wide host ranges, which means the data are relevant for home gardens, nurseries, and many commodity crops.
…An uncommon phrase to hear in agriculture, but recent floods will have a dramatic effect and have already caused an estimated $12.5 billion dollar loss in the Midwest. Impacts include crop damage, inability to access fields to work ground or plant, and water contamination.
Here at home, the mainstem of the Willamette River and its tributaries (Long Tom, Mary’s, Callapooia) are in huge swells, with property flooding and road closures abundant. For current updates, check Benton and Linn County webpages or ODOT TripCheck.
From an insect pest point-of-view, the changes that may come about are uncertain, but I will be keeping a close ‘eye to the ground’. Flooding could cause mortality for some species (onion bulb mite, beetles, sawflies), promote growth in others (armyworms, mosquitoes), and have little effect on bugs that overwinter in sheltered areas (BMSB and ladybugs).
‘Twas a dreary day when I could finally get out to our research farm to assess damage to fields. However, our farm manager is resilient and those that have lived here longer say it’s “not that big of a deal”. I guess when you live in Oregon with 300 days of rain, you make your own mental sunshine.
Some current hypotheses (from processors, OSU plant clinic, researchers, growers, field reps):
1. The damage may have been caused by heat stress during a critical time of development. In May and again in July, there were extreme variations of temperature:
2. Auxins are phytohormones known to regulate growth processes in plants, and can spike rapidly in response to heat-shock. Increased auxin levels can ‘present’ as abnormal root growth or phototropism, which was noted at some of the sites:
As auxins move throughout the plant, the gradient shifts and, at least in other types of plants, declining levels causes leaves or petioles to break off. I don’t know much about abscission zones in broccoli, so if you are still reading, please know that these are just my rambling thoughts, and not an official diagnosis. 🙂
3. Another possibility is that young plants were sensitive to residual carryover from synthetic auxin herbicides (2,4-D, Dicamba, Fluroxypyr) remaining in the soil, which is possible with a grass-brassica rotation.
Recently, there has been some concern about odd symptoms of wilting and reduced stands in broccoli and cauliflower here in the Willamette Valley. See photos below.
Symptoms include: Weakened stems – necrosis of lower leaves – poor stand – girdling/calloused tissue at soil level – stem breakage – possible association with weed hosts – abnormal root growth
NOTE: AT THIS TIME, I HAVE ONLY EDUCATED GUESSES OF WHAT MIGHT BE CONTRIBUTING FACTORS TO THE FOLLOWING SYMPTOMS IN BRASSICA FIELDS. THIS ISSUE IS CURRENTLY UNDER INVESTIGATION IN CONJUNCTION WITH FIELD FACULTY AND DIAGNOSTIC LABS.
Participating in the OSU Extension Open House last night was fun and rewarding (thanks, staff!!). I enjoy outreach events and inevitably learn something from interacting with the public.
Yesterday’s conversations led to today’s topic: “Problems with my PEAS”
In the span of two hours, three different citizens came to me wondering why their early-planted peas are being “attacked by an unidentified marauder” (direct quote).
All 3 inquiries were similar and there were some important clues present: leaves are being damaged from the edge inward (chewing mouthparts); not cut off at soil level (cutworm); nothing obvious when scouting at night.
In anticipation of this month’s release of Oregon’s Agricultural Progress research magazine, I wanted to put a brief post up to help orient OAP readers.
As you saw in the article, VegNet uses an email marketing platform to inform program subscribers about insect pesttrends throughout the Willamette Valley. Our readership includes vegetable growers, crop consultants, and home gardeners from across the country.
The blog now has a ‘search by category‘ function located at left, if you are interested in a particular insect, or just want an easy way to browse through content. There is also an FAQ page. Or, you could go here to view all the reports from last year.
If this program interests you at all, please do join the mailing list to be included this season. Pest reports are delivered straight to your inbox, once a week, and only between April and October. The program is free, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
As in..not quite the attention-grabbing, human-adored, delightful critters known as butterflies, but we are here today to petition that moths are just as important!
National Moth Week celebrates the beauty, life cycles, and habitats of moths. “Moth-ers” of all ages and abilities are encouraged to learn about, observe, and document moths in their backyards, parks, and neighborhoods. National Moth Week is being held, worldwide, during the last full week of July (which isJULY 17-25th, 2021 = 10th annual!).
NMW offers everyone, everywhere a unique opportunity to become a Citizen Scientist and contribute scientific data about moths. Through partnerships with major online biological data depositories, NMW participants can help map moth distribution and provide needed information on other life history aspects around the globe. More information can be found here.
Search the map to find an event near you, (2017 text) but I will tell you – we are the only one in Oregon so far! We hosted a booth at the Farmer’s Market to get the word out, and it was a huge success. There is also a moth walk planned for July 22nd, co-sponsored by Oregon State Arthropod Collection (OSAC) and Greenbelt Land Trust. More info here. UPDATE: EVENT FULL!
Better yet, create your own backyard mothing event! This document has some great tips on how to view and photograph moths. Then comes the fun part! Upload your findings to iNaturalist.org or a similar service. You do not need to be able to identify the species, others will help!
Good Luck, Have Fun, and Thanks for Your Help promoting and documenting this important group of insects!!