Tuesday, June 28, 2011

New Technology & Website (Free) Assists With Tree, Insect, and Forest Identification

Great Resource for Landowners, Teachers, Community Forestry Groups, and Others

A new technology for creating and viewing stunningly high-resolution panoramic images is becoming a powerful research tool. It's called GigaPan. Developed as an outgrowth of NASA research on Mars, the technology has now been brought home to Earth. GigaPan uses a digital camera connected to a microprocessor to create fine grained panoramic pictures of any subject - an insect, a tree, a forest - with a resolution 1,000 times that of HDTV. According to Panning for Science - "It's like viewing nature through a huge magnifying glass."

Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands in partnership with the robotics program at Carnegie Mellon University and NASA, Maine's Bureau of Parks and Lands is a beta-testing agency for a new technology that allows users to take incredibly high-resolution panoramic images. Using a robotic camera mount that sits on a tripod, the Gigapan system automatically takes dozens or even hundreds of images and "stitches" them together to form one high resolution image that allows viewers to zoom in on tiny details or move around the "virtual" environment.

Adapted from "Panning for Science," by Karen A. Frenkel. Science 330:748.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Asian Longhorned Beetle Found in Ohio

We certainly have heard a lot recently about the emerald ash borer.  In fact, my last post included an update about the insect.  We have not heard much in the news about Asian longhorned beetle (ALB).  Well, that just changed, the insect has now been discovered in Bethel, Ohio, 30 miles southeast of Cincinnatti.  For the complete June 17th news release from USDA APHIS click here

This is not good news for Pennsylvania.  This insect strongly prefers maples.  ALB was first detected in Chicago and New York with a severe infestation now occurring in Worcester, Massachusets.  To see a complete listing of tree species preferred by ALB click here.

Tunneling by beetle larvae girdles tree stems and branches. Repeated attacks lead to dieback of the tree crown and, eventually, death of the tree. ALB probably traveled to the United States inside solid wood packing material from China. The beetle has been intercepted at ports and found in warehouses throughout the United States.

For the complete USDA (Forest Service and APHIS) Pest Alert fact sheet click here.

I encourage everyone to report any signs of ALB activity and avoid moving firewood.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Emerald Ash Borer in Peak Flight

Emeral ash borer (EAB) adults are on the wing in Pennsylvania!  Adults were observed on the wing next to a large, infested ash tree by Dr. Greg Hoover, Penn State University Extension Entomologist, while doing a program on EAB for a local TV station this past week.  He was at an EAB site located in northeastern Union County in Central Pennsylvania.

The EAB peak flight period in Pennsylvania is June through mid-July.  So, while in your travels be on the lookout for adults, especially on the sunny side of ash trees.  Additionally, look for any marginal notching on the ash leaflets, especially on leaflets associated with epicormic shoots around the base of infested tree.

Dr. Hoover has compiled a number of fact sheets with high quality images on his Emerald Ash Borer Web Site.  There are fact sheets on Identification and Damage, Ash Tree Identification, Borer Look-Alikes and others. 

On another note....biological control measures are moving forward.  Scientists in Wisconsin made their first release of tiny wasps (Tetrastichus planipennisi) collected from China this past week.  The wasps have show promise at killing the borer.  Now the research will attempt to find out if the tiny wasp will control ash borer populations.

In Battle Against Ash Borer, Wasps May Be the Saviors (The Northwestern.com, June 7, 2011)
MADISON — A battle of insects is coming to Wisconsin as scientists look for ways to save the state's ash trees.

On one side is the emerald ash borer, an invasive insect that has killed millions of ash trees and, scientists say, threatens billions more. On the other are tiny species of wasps that, in China, have shown they will kill the borer. Scientists are now starting to release the wasps in an experimental effort aimed at controlling the borer.

Read the full story.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Backyard Forestry Webinar

Are you a homeowner with acres of lawn you would like to convert to natural area?  Do you have a small patch of woods you'd like to manage or improve for wildlife habitat? You are not alone.  Many homeowners find themselves with the home of their dreams and acres of lawn that take time and money to maintain.  Or, a small patch of woods that they love, but don't know how to care for.  This session will explore ideas and approaches for caring for a small or even a large piece of property to have less maintenance, healthier trees, and diverse plants and wildlife.

The PA Forests Web Seminar Center will be providing a webinar on backyard forestry on Tuesday, June 14th as part of the monthly forest stewardship series.  The webinar will be presented by Dr. Jim Finley of the Penn State School of Forest Resources live at noon and again at 7:00 PM.  Each seminar lasts approximately one hour.

Each session is recorded and loaded onto the Previous Webinars page along with a copy of the presentation and any handout materials.  So, if you are unable to participate in the "live" session, a recording of it will be available for you to view at your convenience. Of course, none of the interactive elements will be available when watching the recording.

To participate in the live seminars you must register and have a "Friend of Penn State" user ID. The "Register Now" page on the website will walk you through this process.  Participation in the web seminar does not require any special software. To view live and previously recorded seminars all you need is a high-speed Internet connection and sound.

The webinar is based on a 139 page full color manual entitled "The Woods in Your Backyard."  The publication, written by Jonathan Kays, Joy Drohan, Adam Downing, and Jim Finley, promotes the stewardship of small parcels of land from 1-10 acres.  It is a for sale publication and can be purchased off the NRAES site.