Friday, May 29, 2015

Leafing Through the Boston Globe

Can you hear the rustling?

"Caterpillars of winter moths threaten region’s trees, again" by Carolyn Y. Johnson Globe Staff  May 27, 2015

It’s the annual attack of the tiny, very hungry winter moth caterpillars.

You may have seen them in your yard. On your car. Dropping into your lap.

Over the past few days, the green inchworm caterpillars have begun ballooning down out of trees by the thousands, dangling on a wisp of thread and leaving behind a tattered, frayed canopy of leaves.

With the annual winter moth caterpillar outbreak in full force, homeowners and tree care companies are facing a rite of spring that has become a major threat to the health of the region’s trees.

I went outside and looked and the trees around here seem okay so far. Will keep an eye on it, but as for the war-framing terminology and constant turning around to fear and threats in the paper, I'm just gassed. Sorry. I'm exhausted. First the snow conspired against us and now we are under attack from nature. Wars, what wars?

“There’s a tattering of the leaves — it’s a lot of holes on the leaves. A lot of this comes from the caterpillars feeding on the buds before they open,” said Joseph Elkinton, a professor of entomology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst who has for a decade been releasing a parasitic fly that has begun to have success in controlling the population of hungry caterpillars. “In one person’s yard, there might be one million winter moths.”

The winter moth caterpillar is an invasive species from Europe that showed up in Massachusetts sometime in the late 1990s and was only definitively identified in 2003. But the pests have quickly established themselves and spread, with no natural enemy to keep the population in check.

You have to love globalization. So what entity can they introduce to fight it (with unforeseen consequences; think Asian carp).

Experts said the severity of this year’s outbreak depends on where you live, and even varies by neighborhood and town. There are pockets where the caterpillars have severely defoliated the tree canopy, while areas down the road might be lightly affected.

Where the caterpillars have established themselves, however, the damage has been done, aided in part by the weather.

“If you have a long, cool spring and things are very slow to leaf out, the winter moths can be feeding within the closed buds, and decimating the foliage before it emerges,” said Andrew Gapinski, the Arnold Arboretum’s manager of horticulture, who said the trees on Peters Hill have been particularly hard hit this year.

Looks like another bad year for apples again. At least it's been a dry May.

The winter moth is a difficult pest because its hunger seemingly knows no bounds. It eats maples, oaks, fruit trees, ash.

“I have yet to find a tree they don’t like, frankly,” Elkinton said. “Apples, in particular, are damaged by winter moths, and we’re trying to figure that out.”

The stress on the trees is also compounded by the lack of rainfall.

“We’re working on three consecutive years of drought,” said Rolf Briggs, a consulting arborist at Tree Specialists in Holliston. “The stripping of foliage right when it comes out is an enormous hit on the tree’s bank account.”

That's where I want to cut the damn thing down. 

If it's not war terminology, it's banker$peak!!!!

Briggs and other specialists have been busy fielding calls and spraying trees with insecticides, but several said the caterpillars are pretty much done munching and for the next week will be dropping into the soil where they will pupate and spend the summer, before developing into moths around Thanksgiving.

Yeah, great. God help the bees.

A longer-term solution, however, has been quietly beginning to show success.

Good, I can stop worrying(?).

In Nova Scotia, a winter moth invasion in the 1950s was eventually controlled by the spread of a fly called Cyzenis albicans. The fly lays its eggs on the leaves the caterpillar eats, and once the winter moth caterpillar begins to pupate in the soil, the fly will eat the insect from the inside out.

A decade ago, Elkinton and colleagues began releasing the flies by the thousands at sites around the state. Now, they are beginning to see success.

In Wellesley, they have been collecting caterpillars by putting a tarp down and shaking the branches of trees. The researchers have found that about 30 to 40 percent of the caterpillars have the parasite inside them.

This kind of control won’t help in the short-term, but as the population of flies grows, it should be able to keep the winter moth caterpillars in check. Because the flies are specialists, they also do not pose a threat to other caterpillars, Elkinton said.

In the shorter term, many homeowners resort to spraying and insecticides. But the timing has to be right — before they’ve turned leaves into a lattice and eaten their fill.

“There are options; you can spray,” said Ken Gooch, forest health program director for the state Department of Conservation and Recreation. “But the timing has to be correct. . . . By the time people notice, it’s too late to spray for it.”

But many anguished homeowners face a learning curve in how to battle a relatively recent pest.

Just over a decade ago, Briggs recalls looking up into the tree canopy on a Brookline street and seeing something unfamiliar and alarming....

I'm alarmed I've been leafing through the Globe for decades. Maybe it's time to stop.


Btw, what do they make newspapers out of? 

Maybe the death of the industry will be good for the trees. 

Look on the bright side. With no shade you kids can get a nice tan:

"Colleges cautioned on tanning salons" by Felice J. Freyer Globe Staff  May 27, 2015

Of all the hazards that young people face at college, here is one that probably crossed few parents’ minds: the easy access to tanning beds, often found in off-campus housing and sometimes paid for with university-sponsored cash cards.

Now, cancer-prevention advocates are targeting colleges in a campaign to unplug indoor tanning, citing studies that link the practice to an increase in melanoma among young people.

And colleges, including in New England, are beginning to change policies. The University of New Hampshire and Salem State University, for example, have moved to stop use of their college cash cards — debit cards that students use to shop — at tanning salons....

That's enough time in the tanning bed.


Ftr, I don't go out in the sun much and never go to the beach:

"Tar globs close Los Angeles-area beaches to swimming" Associated Press  May 29, 2015

MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. — Popular beaches along nearly 7 miles of Los Angeles-area coastline were off-limits to surfing and swimming Thursday as scientists looked for the source of globs of tar that washed ashore.

The sand and surf on south Santa Monica Bay appeared virtually free of oil after an overnight cleanup, but officials weren’t sure if more tar would show up. They planned to assess during low tides.

Coast Guard and state officials said samples of tar and water would be analyzed to identify where it originated, but it could take days to get the results. Nothing has been ruled out, including last week’s coastal oil spill that created a 10-square-mile slick about 100 miles to the northwest off the Santa Barbara County coast.

Yeah, ya think?

There is also a refinery and offshore oil tanker terminal nearby, but the Coast Guard did not find a sheen from a spill after the tar started to accumulate Wednesday.

No problems with wildlife have been reported, said a state Fish and Wildlife official.

Lifeguards chased a handful of surfers out of the water, but beach life was otherwise normal for the non swimmers.

Yeah, minimize or ignore real environmental problems.


Yeah, they don't know why the fish are dying off.

Can caterpillars eat oil? How about alligatorsSnakes?

Maybe it will just dry up on its own so fast that six years worth of water all of a sudden results in government restrictions coming into view.

At least it is going to be a $plendid touri$m $ea$on!!! 

Enjoy the summer because it is time for lunch and I'm done for the day.

"Lunch "Shake Shack Inc.’s stock plunged for the second straight day after investors scrutinized the burger chain’s valuation and one of the stock’s high-profile fans, CNBC’s Jim Cramer, recommended selling it. The stock had risen more than fourfold since its initial public offering. That raised questions about whether a company with fewer than 70 locations can justify a $3 billion valuation. As of April 30, almost 43 percent of the shares were sold short, meaning traders are betting they will go down."

That is where you can start shaking up the truth!

It's only polite to chew with your mouth closed:

"McDonald’s Corp. plans to stop reporting monthly same-store sales results as its new chief executive, Steve Easterbrook (right), works to revive growth. The world’s largest fast-food chain will provide same-store sales for June then cease providing the data monthly. It will continue providing quarterly reports. McDonald’s has had 11 straight months of declining sales. Easterbrook is reorganizing the leadership and cutting costs. The reporting change is meant to help McDonald’s focus on longer-term performance. “The monthly reporting just lends itself to more volatility, and I think investors focus on short-term issues,” said Jack Russo, an analyst at Edward Jones & Co. Sales at stores open at least 13 months fell 0.6 percent in April. They dropped 2.3 percent in the United States." 

Yeah we won't tell you how bad we are doing. Now come in and eat our crap!

Maybe this will $weeten your palate. 


"A woman accused of killing her fiance on the Hudson River by sabotaging his kayak is a victim of an accident that occurred on the chilly water after they had a couple drinks, her lawyer said Friday. Prosecutors claim Angelika Graswald removed the drain plug from Vincent Viafore’s kayak and pushed a floating paddle away from him after his craft capsized." 

So has this blog.