I Speak for the Milkweed Tussock Moth!

I came across early instar milkweed tussock moth caterpillars (Euchaetes egle) feeding on their namesake host yesterday and they reminded me of an e-mail message I received last year.  The message was from a well-meaning monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) enthusiast who asked how they could control tussock caterpillars so they wouldn't compete with monarchs.  I was aghast.  We celebrate the rejection of a monarchy each July 4! 

 

It can't be denied that milkweed tussock moth...

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Joe Boggs

Hen and Chicks ... Blooming?

Last week, as I was walking into the office one morning, I suddenly noticed what appeared to be a strange swelling coming up out of the center of one of the succulents, commonly called “hen and chicks” (Sempervivium spp.)  I decided to keep an eye on it as I passed daily since the plants were clustered at the sidewalk by the entrance. 

After a couple of days, it began to appear to me that it was going to be a stalk of some kind.  In rapt amazement, I watched as I saw flower buds form on that stalk, which was about 6” tall.  In all of my plant gawking years, I have never...

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Erik Draper

Birdsfoot Trefoil Foiling Landscapes and Naturalized Areas

Traveling through southwest Ohio this weekend, I noticed ever-expanding patches of birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) along roadways, in landscapes, and in home and commercial lawns.  Yet another story of dueling plant cultivation interests.  This perennial, spreading, herbaceous legume is native to Europe and Asia.  It was introduced into North America for use as a forage crop harvested for hay or used in pastures.  Plants can survive and thrive in a wide range of soil and environmental conditions that would limit the use of other forage crops such as alfalfa.  Indeed, you...

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Joe Boggs

Strafing Horse Flies

While taking photos today of willow pinecone galls for a BYGL Alert, I was constantly strafed by a maniacal horse fly (Tananus spp.).  These hefty flies belong to the family Tabanidae which is the largest family of bloodsucking insects with over 4,500 horsefly species known worldwide.  There are several species in Ohio ranging in size from 3/8 - 1 1/8" in length.  The crazed fly buzzing me was T. abdominalis.  It doesn't have a common name other than #@%%# fly!  At least, that's what I called it.

 

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Joe Boggs

Weird Willow Gall

Arguably, one of the weirdest galls found in Ohio is produced on willow by the gall-midge, Rhabdophaga strobiloides (family Cecidomyiidae).  The gall's appearance isn't weird; it looks like a pine cone.  However, finding a "pine cone" on a willow is weird.  As the common name implies, the Willow Pinecone Gall, which is sometimes called the "pine cone willow gall," closely resembles a pine cone with closed seed scales.

 

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Joe Boggs

Foliage Foretells (F)all

  This spring I wrote of sour gum/black gum/tupelo/pepperidge (Nyssa sylvatica) when I noticed for the first time that I had a male tree (with stamens) and a female tree (with pistils) in my back field. Until then I thought of them as just two tupelos. Well, the bird-beloved result of their union have now resulted in greenish fruits which soon will be blue-purple. So, flowers, fruits, now a word about  – foliage. Tupelo leaves are wonderfully lustrous green in spring and summer before turning intense scarlets, oranges, and purples in fall. But, wait, the time has come, as every...

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Jim Chatfield
Cultivate Hydrangeas chatfield.1 Sun, 07/17/2016 - 21:48

  Hydrangea is a genus of great range and beauty. Panicle types such as PeeGee hydrangea. Mopheads. Climbing hydrangeas. Oakleaf hydrangeas of beautiful panicle flowers and wonderful fall foliage. Delicate pinks and blues, sometimes on the same plant. Electric colors to make a big splash. Hydrangeas were on display, revealing a high level of horticultural expertise at AmericanHort’s Cultivate’16 this past week as well as in the horticulturally laissez-faire world of the ChatScape, where my daughter Sara took a picture of the creams and pinks of an oakleaf hydrangea panicle today...

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Jim Chatfield

Japanese Beetle Centennial

  Japanese beetles on a linden leaf or on a rose leaf or flower - to this we are accustomed. On certain plants though, such as cut-leaf rhamnus or as shown here from Wooster, Ohio on dawnredwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides); somehow it seems like they do not have enough of a perch or dining area.  Perhaps it is the small-plates phenomenon. At any rate, the chewing-mouthparts damage here is quite familiar and Popillia japonica damage to the turf and ornamental industry is huge. In fact, a 2002 paper by Dan Potter and David Held of the University of Kentucky (Annu. Rev....

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Jim Chatfield

Petunias, Part Deux

Two weeks ago, I wrote a paean to petunias and how they liven up the street scene in Wooster Ohio. This week, I got a second dose while traversing the trade show floor at Cultivate’16, the summer festival of flowers and floricultural and all horticultural education put on by American Hort at the Columbus Convention Center.  There were of course many more attractions as well as petunias. Yet, this among many, all my life I have waited for flowers such as these. Below are just a few to whet your petunia palette with what is here now and with what is to come of new varieties.  Get thee to...

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Jim Chatfield

Queendom of the Spiders

The 1977 sci-fi movie, Kingdom of the Spiders, that stared William Shatner got it wrong.  Not with tapping Captain Kirk for the lead role, but with the movie's title:  with rare exceptions, only female spiders spin species-typical webs.  It's still a pretty good movie even with the 1970s era special effects.

 

Of course, the downside with such arachnophobic movies is what happens when movie viewers venture forth in the morning.  Ohioans may be surprised at the large number of spiders living near at hand when heavy morning dews accentuate their gossamer creations. ...

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Joe Boggs