Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Yellow poplar weevil makes presence known in Pennsylvania, mid-Atlantic

Adult yellow poplar weevil shown with feeding injury.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Many residents in Pennsylvania and neighboring states are getting "ticked" about an insect that has made its presence known in a big way this spring and summer. But this bug is not a species of eight-legged arthropod known to carry Lyme disease and other pathogens.
It's the yellow poplar weevil, a small (about 3 millimeters long), black snout beetle that has been seen in large numbers crawling on vehicles and other surfaces, including plants in landscapes and in ornamental nurseries. Some people have mistaken these weevils for ticks because they count the insects' pair of antennae as a "fourth pair" of legs. However, yellow poplar weevil is harmless to people.
There has been a widespread spike in the population of this native insect in Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, according to Gregory Hoover, ornamental extension entomologist in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences. "The level of this year's outbreak has not been seen since 1968," he said.
"The yellow poplar weevil overwinters as an adult in the leaf litter," Hoover said. "When the weather warms in the spring, adults emerge and may feed on the swelling host plant buds. Mating and egg laying occur from May to early June."
He noted that eggs are laid in the midrib on the lower leaf surface of the host, and newly hatched larvae bore into the leaf tissue to feed as leafminers. There may be from one to 19 larvae that develop in one leaf mine blotch.
Blotched leaf caused by weevil larva.
"The larval stage of the yellow poplar weevil may mine the foliage of tuliptree or yellow poplar, magnolia and sassafras," he said. "Larvae undergo the molt into the pupal stage in the leaf mine. Adults start to emerge in southern Pennsylvania during mid- to late June. Adults have a snout with chewing mouthparts that they use to feed on host plant tissue and may cause the most foliar damage to the host plant."
Hoover explained that premature leaf drop may occur on damaged tuliptree or yellow poplar foliage during drought conditions. By mid-July, he said, most adults enter a period of inactivity and will enter the leaf litter to overwinter. This species has one generation each year.
"If indicated, yellow poplar weevil adults may be managed with registered insecticide formulations containing the active ingredients bifenthrin or carbaryl that should be applied in late June to early July according to all label directions," advised Hoover. He is attempting to document the geographic distribution of the weevil outbreak.
"I'd like to know where in Pennsylvania -- besides the counties of Allegheny, Centre, Cumberland, Franklin, Indiana, Somerset and Westmoreland -- the yellow poplar weevil has been abundant in the past few weeks," he said. Residents can report infestations to Hoover via email at

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Public invited to workshop on improving land for plants and wildlife

Anyone interested in improving their land for the benefit of flora and fauna will not want to miss the third in the “Woods in Your Backyard” series of programs to be held in the State College area. Woods in Your Backyard: Seeing Your Land – Envisioning its Future will be held Saturday, August 29 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. at Chicory Lane Farm in Spring Mills, Pa., and will include information, discussion, and tours of conservation and habitat improvement projects in old fields, woods, and wetlands.

Jim Finley, Ibberson Professor of Forest Resources Management and Director of the Center for Private Forests at Penn State, will frame the day's program by helping participants look at their land for the values they find important - why they own and love their land. Jim states, “Too often discussions between landowners and resource professionals start with objectives; that is, what do they want to do? How do they want to shape the land? These are complex questions and really secondary to understanding what is important to them about their land, how they use it, and what they want for tomorrow.” Jim's presentation will focus on helping landowners think about and articulate their relationship to the land.

The morning session will emphasize understanding your land by seeing key features of dierent areas. The afternoon session will focus on envisioning future possibilities through in-depth discussions with natural resource professionals from various agencies at different locations across the property. Relationships between plants and wildlife in the landscape will be illustrated and explained. This workshop will be conducted in a “walking-and-talking” instead of “sitting-and-listening” style.
The program is sponsored by Penn State Extension, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, and ClearWater Conservancy with additional support from: Center for Private Forests at Penn State, DCNR Bureau of Forestry, Centre County Conservation District, Wildlife Management Institute, Pennsylvania Game Commission, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Penns Valley Conservation Association.

Topics include: Developing cool and warm-season grasslands, establishing  native wildflower meadows, identifying and controlling invasive plants, vernal pools and wetlands for wildlife, managing streamside and early successional habitats for wildlife, planting a new hardwood forest, landscaping with native plants, and tree and shrub identification.

The workshop uses the manual “The Woods in Your Backyard: Learning to Create and Enhance Natural Areas Around Your Home.” All participants will receive the full-color, 139-page manual. This self-directed
book will guide you through the process of developing and implementing projects to enhance your land’s natural resources.

There are two ways to register for this workshop:  Online with any major credit card by clicking here or call the Penn State Extension-Centre County office at 814-355-4897 to register over the phone. The fee for attending the workshop is $15 per person (includes lunch and educational materials). Pre-registration is required by Monday, August 24.  Space is limited so register early.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

New Video on Managing Oriental Bittersweet

Over the past 4-5 years Oriental bittersweet, Celastrus orbiculatushas, has become more and more of a problem in Central Pennsylvania woodlands.  It is a perennial twining woody vine imported from Asia that is rapidly replacing the native bittersweet and strangling many of our forest trees in woods and fence rows.  I have been struggling to control it on the Penn State demonstration woodlot in Centre County for some time now and I can't seem to keep up with it.

Just like all invasive plants it is important to identify the plant and deal with infestations early before they become a major problem.  If you are not familiar with this vine here are a couple of resources that will help. 
Penn State Extension: Oriental Bittersweet
PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources: Oriental Bittersweet

When controlling this plant it is important to prevent it from going to seed.  So, the first step in the process is to cut the larger mature vines as they grow up into the crowns of trees.  It is imperative to use herbicides when dealing with this plant as cutting alone will do nothing to rid your woods of this invasive vine.  Therefore, when cutting the vines be sure treat the cut surfaces with the appropriate mix.  I have found that a 50% surfactant loaded glyphosate solution (ex. Accord XRTII) will provide pretty good control of the roots.  Cut and treat stems outside of the early spring growing season when you may have sap flow.  Cutting and treating is best in mid-later summer as it will provide maximum herbicide translocation to the roots.

Another attribute of this plant that makes it so difficult to control is the fact that it sends up root suckers, spreading by rhizomes.  Following cutting, foliar herbicide applications made in late summer are most effective at controlling the remainder of this plant.  It is recommended to use the same herbicide solution that is used to control invasive shrubs.  A colleague of mine has prepared an Exotic Shrub Fact Sheet which includes this herbicide mixture of triclopyr and glyphosate.  It is important to calibrate your spray equipment before applying this mixture.  Follow the instructions for Simple Sprayer Calibration: Spot Applications outlined here.

The University of Minnesota Extension has recently released an excellent video entitled "Defeating a Killer Vine: Oriental Bittersweet Management."  This is an excellent 5 minute video that covers both ID and control.  Be sure to check it out.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Pennsylvania Tree Farmers Win Outstanding Regional Tree Farmers of the Year

It has just been announced that Raul Chiesa and Janet Sredy of Beckets Run Woodlands, the 2014 Pennsylvania Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year, are being recognized as the 2015 Northeastern Region Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year, by the American Tree Farm System (ATFS), a branch of the American Forest Foundation.
The ATFS also announced the other 3 regional winners of the 2015 Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year:
•          The Hoiland family of Montana
•          The Boutwell family of Alabama
•          The Becker family of Wisconsin
These four awardees, representing all four corners of the nation, have demonstrated hard work, dedication, resilience, and an excellence in stewardship in managing their land’s wood, wildlife, water, and recreation.

Read more about the finalists or join ATFS for upcoming webinars where the regional winners will talk about their Tree Farm and all the great work they are doing on their land and in their community:
•          The Hoilands: July 8th, 2015 at 3 pm ET
•          The Boutwells: July 9th, 2015 at 2 pm ET
•          Raul Chiesa and Janet Sredy: July 23rd, 2015 at 2 pm ET
•          The Beckers: Stay tuned for date and time....

Please take a few moments to read their stories of stewardship and then cast your vote on who you think should be recognized as this year's National Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year. Online voting will conclude on July 31st, 2015 and is limited to one per day.

The final selection of the National Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year will be decided by a panel of voters that includes the American Forest Foundation's Woodland Operating Committee, conservation partners, the senior staff of the American Forest Foundation and you. The Regional Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year with the most online votes will receive one additional vote.

In Addition, On Saturday July 18th beginning at 1PM Beckets Run Woodlands will host a tour to showcase their conservation efforts to restore the forest ecosystem by controlling invasive plants and promoting biodiversity and wildlife habitat in southern Allegheny County. If interested in attending or for more information please contact owners Raul Chiesa and Janet Sredy by July 11: You can also find them on Facebook.

We wish Raul and Janet well in the competition to be the 2015 National Tree Farmers of the Year! Thanks for all you do to promote good forest stewardship through the Tree Farm Program. Best of luck!