Latest Posts

Field Notes

The Ant-Plant Connection

May 19, 2022 - By Ellen Powell, VDOF Conservation Education Coordinator Readers of my Field Notes posts will know that I like to introduce nerdy words. Today I have two: elaiosome (pronounced eh-LIE-uh-sohm) and myrmecochory (pronounced mer-me-ko-CORE-e). Together they describe a fascinating connection between ants and plants. Myrmecochory is a seed dispersal strategy used by some familiar plants. It means their seeds are carried away by ants! Myrmecochorous seeds have attached structures called elaiosomes.... Read More

Field Notes

A Park, a Planting, a Partnership

April 18, 2022 - By Delaney Beattie, VDOF Riparian Buffer Specialist- James River Buffer Program At Greene County Community Park, partners recently came together for the simple act of planting a tree. Thirty trees and shrubs, to be exact – and there are more to come. Greene County Community Park covers 70 acres and is the only public park in Greene County. The land is mostly open fields, but Quarter Creek runs through the... Read More

Field Notes

Longleaf Grafting 101

April 18, 2022 - By Jim Schroering, VDOF Longleaf Pine Coordinator and Ellen Powell, VDOF Conservation Education Coordinator Forestry usually takes place on a landscape scale. But some forestry work requires meticulous attention to detail. Just ask the team of VDOF staff who recently undertook the painstaking process of grafting longleaf pines. Grafting requires splicing a scion – a growing stem with desired characteristics – onto an established rootstock of the same species. You... Read More

Field Notes

Thinning Out Southern Pine Beetle

April 7, 2022 - By Katlin Dewitt, VDOF Forest Health Specialist The southern pine beetle (SPB) is the most destructive native insect that threatens pine forests in the Southeast. These tiny insects, about the size of a grain of rice as adults, are especially harmful due to the complex system of pheromones (insect “scents” that are specific to a species) they utilize to find host trees and aggregate. Pheromones allow populations to build up... Read More

Field Notes

A Pollinator Primer

March 28, 2022 - By Scott Bachman, VDOF Senior Area Forester Recently, I attended the Virginia Association of Forest Health Professionals meeting held in Staunton, VA.  There were many great topics discussed over the day and a half long conference.  I will admit I was there for the pesticide recertification credits I could earn. You never know what you will get when you attend a pesticide recertification meeting, but this agenda was quite varied... Read More

Field Notes

Wake Up, Seedlings!

March 14, 2022 - By Todd Groh, VDOF Forest Resource Management Program Manager Can you feel it? The temperatures are rising and the daylight is lingering. New life is pushing up through the once cold soils, and we’re seeing the yellow blooms of daffodils across the Commonwealth. Spring is almost here, and the trees know it too. Red maples are often the first trees to wake up in Virginia forests and along roadways, their... Read More

Field Notes

New Life for Old Trees

March 9, 2022 - By Meghan Mulroy-Goldman, VDOF Community Forestry Specialist Spend some time in Hampton Roads, Virginia, and you will probably notice that there is a lot of water. Where there’s a lot of water, there are also a lot of boats. In Hampton Roads, this means everything from small kayaks to massive aircraft carriers and everything in between. In fact, Hampton Roads is home to Newport News Shipbuilding, Norfolk Naval Shipyard, and... Read More

Field Notes

Spotted Lanternfly Egg Mass Scouting – DIY!

February 23, 2022 - By Lori Chamberlin, VDOF Forest Health Manager If you are in search of a fun winter activity, look no further! The spotted lanternfly (or SLF, for short), an invasive insect that was discovered in Virginia in 2018, continues to spread, and we need your help finding egg masses. Spotted lanternfly egg masses are laid in the fall, survive through the winter, and then hatch in the spring. Each egg mass... Read More

Field Notes

Springtime in February?

February 11, 2022 - By Ellen Powell, VDOF Conservation Education Coordinator   Nothing says springtime like birds carrying food to the young in their nests. Wait, it’s not spring; it’s February. Birds aren’t nesting yet…or are they? Most birds do wait until warmer months to begin raising young. One reason is better availability of high quality food for the nestlings. Almost all of our songbirds and gamebirds feed their young insects, a high protein... Read More

Field Notes

How Do Trees Survive the Winter?

February 3, 2022 - By Cory Swift-Turner, VDOF Public Information Specialist – Have you ever looked at a tree covered in snow and wondered, how do trees survive cold winters? Trees face several challenges to their survival in the winter, including scarce liquid water, freezing temperatures and strong winds. To meet these challenges, trees have developed a number of adaptations to help them make it to the next spring. Since the harsh, dry conditions... Read More