Tag Archive: Insects

Field Notes

Don’t Judge a Tree by Its Color

August 25, 2022 - A Brief Guide to Late Summer Tree Pests By Amanda Conrad, VDOF Forest Health Technician As the summer heat fades and autumn looms right around the corner, you may notice some changes to leaves that have nothing to do with the seasons. Late summer provides a unique setting for forest and tree pests that go mostly unnoticed until this time of year. One such pest, the fall webworm (Hyphantria cunea),... Read More

Field Notes

Deadly Jewels of Virginia Forests

June 9, 2022 - By Amanda Conrad, VDOF Forest Health Technician The vibrant, metallic green of an emerald ash borer (EAB) makes it look like royalty of the forest. But this beautiful, invasive insect is also deadly. Just one beetle can lay 40-70 eggs on the bark of its preferred host: ash trees. The growing larvae disrupt the flow of water throughout the tree, which will ultimately kill the tree. A healthy ash tree... Read More

Field Notes

Sounding the Fire (Ant) Alarm!

May 26, 2022 - By Katlin Dewitt, VDOF Forest Health Specialist Can a fire alarm alert you to an invasive insect? Technically, no, but it seems an appropriate way to raise awareness about the red imported fire ant! The red imported fire ant (RIFA) is native to central South America and was first detected in either Alabama or Florida between 1933 and 1945. In Virginia, this species was first detected in 1989, and so... Read More

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 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

The Early Caterpillar Gets the Leaf!

May 12, 2021 - By Katlin DeWitt, VDOF Forest Health Specialist Spring is a welcome season for many living things, signaling the end of cold weather and resurgence of color through plants blooming and leafing out. This period of awakening also means that insects emerge and utilize tender foliage for their own development. Forests support many insects throughout their life cycle, but some Lepidopteran species (butterflies and moths) are called early season defoliators, meaning... Read More

Field Notes

Field Notes: Milkweed Magic

September 18, 2020 - By Ellen Powell, VDOF Conservation Education Coordinator For a plant with ‘weed’ in its title, milkweed is a pretty awesome plant. It contains toxins called cardiac glyphosides, which deter feeding by most insects and mammals. Despite this trait, a milkweed plant is a little universe unto itself. In fact, one study documented more than 450 species of insects visiting milkweed in a single midwestern field. You probably already know about... Read More

Field Notes

Field Notes: What’s in the Woods? Best of Summer 2019

January 16, 2020 - By Area Forester Lisa Deaton A Round-up of Interesting Moments & Encounters in the Woods from Summer 2019 When a local deadline for forest land use reports passed in late fall, I had time to share photos from the past few months. Note:  Land Use Assessment is available in many Virginia counties (but not all) for property owners with 20 or more acres of woods.  You can check with your... Read More

Field Notes

Field Notes: What’s In The Woods Today? September 2, 2019

September 13, 2019 - By Project Learning Tree Coordinator Page Hutchinson Look A Little Closer… Although I work for the Virginia Department of Forestry, my job doesn’t actually allow me much time in the forest. Being a tree hugger from way back, I take as many opportunities as I can to get in the forest. On the recent Labor Day holiday, my friend Karen and I went for a hike on the Graves Mill... Read More

Field Notes

Field Notes: What’s In The Woods Today? August 14, 2019

September 11, 2019 - By Area Forester Lisa Deaton Dung Beetles A local farmer asked me to examine a 40-year-old stand of loblolly pines to see if they were large enough to harvest. A corn field was located in the center of the property and we noticed some very fresh deer scat along the field edge. On the way back to the truck we saw something moving on the ground. It was a dung... Read More