Junipers Garnished with Tangerine Tentacles and Orange Goo.

Our wet weather this spring has triggered spectacular spore production by three types of rust fungi on junipers in southwest Ohio.  All three fungi belong to the genus Gymnosporangium and each must alternate between a member of the plant genus Juniperus and members of the rose family (Rosaceae) in order to complete their life cycle.  The requirement to cycle between two types of widely divergent host plants coupled with the rusty color of their spores earns these fungi the collective moniker of "heteroecious" rusts.

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Joe Boggs

Burrowing Crayfish Chimneys Rise Above Turfgrass.

Mud "chimneys," the nuisance handiwork of Terrestrial or Burrowing Crayfish are rising above turfgrass in central and southwest Ohio.  There are several species of burrowing crayfish, but most belong to two genera:  Cambarus and Fallicambarus.  Like their aquatic cousins, these crayfish use gills to extract oxygen from water.  However, unlike their water-soaked cousins, burrowing crayfish spend most of their lives on land.  They must dig their burrows down to ground water so they have a ready source of oxygen.  This connection to a high water table explains why most...

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Joe Boggs

Control Poison Hemlock Now!

This non-native invasive weed is among the most deadly plants in North America.  This biennial weed spends its first year as a basal rosette and the second year as an erect, towering flowering plant that can measure 6-10' tall.  Despite its common name, poison hemlock is not a tree; it is a member of the carrot family, Apiaceae (formerly Umbelliferae).

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Joe Boggs

Heavy Maple Seed Production

Apparently, the sporadic freeze-frost events that occurred this spring in southwest and central Ohio caused little damage to maple flowers and developing seed.  Almost all species of maples in those parts of the state are festooned with heavy seed (a.k.a. "helicopter seed," "maple spinners,").  Abundant winged maple seeds (samaras) in the spring can draw both the attention and wrath of landscapers and homeowners.  Trees shift energy to support heavy seed production at the expense of leaf expansion which makes "seedy trees" look unhealthy.  The overall sickly appearance is enhanced once...

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Joe Boggs

Jack Frost Just Doesn't Give Up!

Certain areas of Northeastern Ohio woke up Sunday morning to find that a hard frost had developed overnight covering turf, picnic tables and decks.  Many ornamental plants and fruit trees had swollen buds and even some scattered blooms evident.  The phone calls from concerned citizens started coming in wanting to know if all was lost regarding the fruit trees and blueberries for this year.  So I went out to see what had happened to the potential fruit crop for the coming season.

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Erik Draper

Be Wary of Canada Geese!

Canada geese have paired up by this time of year and many females are already sitting on nests with eggs. Be cautious around the geese and give them space. Right now, the goose pair's main objective is to protect that nest. The male spends much of his time guarding the female, whether she is eating, resting, or sitting on the nest. Several times in the past few weeks, I have encountered a goose pair and each time they have behaved defensively. Once I backed away and gave them some space, there was no problem. If a goose approaches you, starts bobbing its head, hissing, or flapping its...

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Marne Titchenell

Spring Bird Watch

With the recent pleasant spring weather, I hope many of you have had some time to get outside with your binoculars for a few hours of quality birding! Migrant songbirds have been making their way back to Ohio from warmer, tropical regions for the past several weeks now. Turkey vultures are soaring, Canada geese are nesting and many songbirds can be heard calling as their nesting season gears up. Eastern phoebes, red-winged blackbirds, yellow-rumped warblers, brown thrashers, blue gray gnatcatchers, wood thrush, hooded warblers, and common yellowthroats are just a few of the migrants that...

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Marne Titchenell

Overwintered European Elm Flea Weevils are Attacking Their Namesake Hosts

Overwintered European elm flea weevils (Orchestes alni) are attacking emerging elm leaves in southwest Ohio.  A close examination will reveal weevils feeding and frolicking (mating) among the newly expanding leaves.  Adults produce small feeding holes and females produce additional damage by laying eggs into mid-rib veins and major lateral veins of the leaves.

As leaves expand, the feeding holes become larger and more apparent producing the characteristic "shothole" leaf damage associated with this weevil.  Damage caused by oviposition also becomes more noticeable with...

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Joe Boggs

European Pine Sawfly Larvae are Munching Mugos

 

Early instar European pine sawfly (Neodiprion sertifer) larvae are now large enough to cause noticeable damage to their pine hosts which include Scotch, mugo, red, jack, Table mountain, and Swiss mountain pines.  White and Austrian pines are occasional hosts.  The larvae are grayish-green with bulbous shiny black head capsules; their color and small size make the difficult to see as they feed on the needles. 

All larval stages feed in colonies and practice the same feeding behavior.  They start by aligning themselves with their head at the tip of a needle and...

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Joe Boggs