Beautiful Beetles on Dogbane

Earlier today, I came across one of the most beautiful beetles found in Ohio.  The beetle lacks a common name, but is generally referred to as the "Dogbane Beetle" because it primarily feeds on dogbane.  The beetle's scientific name is Chrysochus auratus, which loosely translates to "made of gold."  Indeed, these beautiful iridescent beetles may look like gleaming spots of gold on the leaves of dogbane, or they may blaze with an array of other shimmering colors depending on your angle to the beetle.  A slight change in viewing angle will cause the beetles to glisten with multiple...

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Joe Boggs
Suction-Cups on the Bottom of Oak Leaves boggs.47 Mon, 06/27/2016 - 18:53

I'm always amazed at how the population densities of certain gall-making wasps on oak seem to synchronize over wide geographical areas so that large numbers of the same gall appears over a wide region.  I don't know how they do it.  These are very tiny insects and they have an intimate relationship with their host trees; it's best for them not to stray too far. 

 

Oak button galls on white oak are very common this season throughout southwest Ohio; I even spotted some on oaks in central Indiana.  The galls are produced by the gall wasp, Neuroterus umbilicatus (...

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Joe Boggs
Myrmecophiles on Display boggs.47 Mon, 06/27/2016 - 18:16
The term "myrmecophile" means "ant lover." It's derived from the Greek "myrmex" = ant, and "phlos" = loving. Myremecophile refers to aphids that have a special relationship with ants.
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Joe Boggs
Quercus Quest chatfield.1 Mon, 06/27/2016 - 13:38

A great value added travel joy to the nature and nurture plants-persons within us is trying to figure out the identity of unfamiliar plants. At a Vermont rest area this weekend there were some beautiful oaks (Quercus spp.) with long, maybe 10” long, leaves.  They were in the white oak group, which is a group of oaks with rounded leaf lobes and acorns that develop in one year. Oaks in this group do tend to hybridize readily with each other, but not hybridize with the red/black oak group that have bristle hairs on the tips of the leaf lobes, and which take two years to develop...

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Jim Chatfield
Kathy Smith

Marsonnina Leaf Spot Diagnostics

Marsonnina leaf spot of aspen is something I used to see out West when I lived and worked in Colorado, and maybe once or twice in Ohio, but the example I saw yesterday in Vermont was more about diagnostics. As you can see from this image the Marsonnina fungus causes considerable leaf blotch damage on aspen leaves. Note the pattern however.  The fungus overwinters on twigs and buds and then infects leaves during cool, wet conditions at first leaf emergence. Typically, and as seen here, damage is less or non-existent on subsequent leaf emergence. This pattern is common with many (...

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Jim Chatfield
Ailanthus Webworm Moths boggs.47 Sat, 06/25/2016 - 13:35

Ailanthus webworm moths (Atteva aurea) are flying to porch lights in southwest Ohio.  In my opinion, this is one of the most beautiful moths found in Ohio both because of their coloration and because of what their caterpillars eat.  Caterpillars of this ermine moth (Family Yponomeutidae) feed exclusively on the non-native, highly invasive Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima).

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Joe Boggs
Sneaky Caterpillars boggs.47 Sat, 06/25/2016 - 13:30

There are over 1,400 species of moths in North America that belong to the family Geometridae; it's one of our largest families of moths and butterflies.  Yet, their caterpillars often remain undetected until missing parts of leaves draws attention to these sneaky general defoliators.  Look closely at the above image:  can you see the caterpillar?

 

I took this picture after first seeing the leaf damage then finding the caterpillar; however, I almost completely overlooked the culprit.  That's the M.O. of these caterpillars.  Their camouflaged coloration and sneaky behavior...

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Joe Boggs
Japanese Beetles are on the Wing boggs.47 Sat, 06/25/2016 - 13:24

This past Thursday, I posted that Northern and Southern Masked Chafers (Cyclocephala borealis and C. lurida) were appearing around my porch lights at night in southwest Ohio.  I noted that owing to consistently low Japanese beetle (Popillia japonica) populations in recent years, the two masked chafers have largely supplanted Japanese beetles as the dominant "white grub producing" beetles in my part of the state.  However, that may change this season.

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Joe Boggs
Crabapples For All... Seasons! draper.15 Fri, 06/24/2016 - 21:51
Crabapples are magnificent in their offerings as the complete landscape plant for all seasons! Early in the Spring they are covered with blooms, with various shades of reds, pinks and whites to please the eyes.
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Erik Draper
Jim Chatfield
Crabapple Scab in Ohio chatfield.1 Fri, 06/24/2016 - 15:23

Apple scab disease, caused by the fungus Venturia inaequalis, is a common problem resulting in major aesthetic damage to many crabapple types (taxa). However, there is a tremendous range of susceptibility of these crabapple taxa to scab, and this can make all the difference to a landscape designer, a nurseryman, a homeowner, a garden center professional or Master Gardener volunteer making recommendations for plant selection. Got leaves, got ugly leaves, got beautiful leaves – all are options.

 

This is why the International Ornamental Crabapple Society has...

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Jim Chatfield
Erik Draper
Curtis E. Young