Got Nature? Blog

Posted on September 1st, 2021 in Alert, Disease, How To, Wildlife | No Comments »

MyDNR Email Newsletter: DNR recently updated its recommendations related to the bird disease outbreak. Based on the data received from reports submitted by Indiana residents, it appears that the bird illness is consistently affecting specific areas. Find which counties are continuing to be affected by this outbreak on our website.Blue jay on bird feeder.

One of the simplest and most effective ways residents can help wild birds is by regularly cleaning bird feeders. Seed and suet feeders should be cleaned at least once every two weeks, and hummingbird feeders should be cleaned at least once a week. Bird feeders can be a breeding ground for disease if not properly cleaned. Help your feathered visitors stay healthy year-round by scrubbing feeders with soap and water, followed by a short soak in a 10% bleach solution.

Full article > > >

Resources:
Cause of Songbird Deaths Remains a Mystery, Purdue Extension-Forestry and Natural Resources, Got Nature? Blog
Birdfeeder tips, The National Audubon Society
Birds and Residential Window Strikes: Tips for Prevention, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Breeding Birds and Forest Management: the Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment and the Central Hardwoods Region, The Education Store
Managing Woodlands for Birds Video, Purdue Extension-Forestry and Natural Resources YouTube Channel

Indiana Department of Natural Resources


Many homeowners are finding their trees with dry and wilted leaves. In this video, urban forester Lindsey Purcell talks about the importance of watering your trees and how to do so effectively.

Extreme heat can have a major impact on tree health and survival. Water is the most limiting ecological resource for a tree, and without adequate moisture, decline and death are imminent. It reduces carbohydrate production, significantly lowering energy reserves and production of defense chemicals in the tree. Check out this publication titled Drought? Don’t Forget the Trees! to learn what to look for for any weakening issues including pests that like the dry conditions.

If you have any questions regarding wildlife, trees, forest management, wood products, natural resource planning or other natural resource topics, feel free to contact us by using our Ask an Expert web page.

Resources:
Summer Tree Care, Purdue Landscape Report
Drought? Don’t Forget the Trees!, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Extreme Heat, Purdue Extension – IN-PREPared
Drought Information​, Indiana Department of Natural Resources
Planting Your Tree Part 1: Choosing Your Tree, Purdue Extension YouTube Channel
Tree Selection for the “Un-natural” Environment, The Education Store
Tree Pruning Essentials Video, Purdue Extension YouTube Channel
Tree Defect Identification, The Education Store
Tree Wound and Healing, Got Nature? Blog, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources
Surface Root Syndrome, The Education Store

Lindsey Purcell, Urban Forestry Specialist
Purdue Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Fig 1 Spotted Lanternfly Photo

Figure 1. Adult Spotted Lanternfly resting on the bark of a tree of heaven Vevay, Indiana. Photo taken by Ren Hall (DEPP).

Purdue Landscape Report: Spotted lanternfly (SLF) (Lycorma delicatula), a serious invasive plant pest, has been reported to be in Indiana. This federally regulated invasive species harms plants by slowing their growth and reducing fruit production, especially in vineyards and orchards. Finding this pest this far west of its previously known distribution makes it possible for SLF to be anywhere in Indiana. Knowing where this pest is located can help us respond more effectively to this pest.

Right now, the Indiana DNR is asking for all citizens to keep an eye out for spotted lanternfly. The bright color of late stage immatures and adults are easily recognized at this time of the year. Anyone who spots signs of the spotted lanternfly should contact the Indiana Division of Entomology and Plant Pathology (DEPP) by calling 866-NO EXOTIC (866-663-9684) or send an email (with a photo of the insect if possible) to DEPP@dnr.IN.gov. For more information about this or other invasive pests see the following link.

Fig 2 Spotted Lanternfly Photo

Figure 2. Red immature stage of SLF (fourth instar) feeding on leaves of tree of heaven in Vevay, IN. Photo taken by Ren Hall (DEPP).

What is Spotted Lanternfly?

Spotted lanternfly is a planthopper that originated in Asia. It was first discovered in the United States in Pennsylvania in 2014. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture was unable to limit the spread of this pest because it is an effective hitchhiker and is often spread unknowingly by humans.

Adult spotted lanternfly has two sets of wings, and the underwing has a very distinct red color with spots on the outer wings. The fourth instar of the insect is bright red with black and white markings. The egg masses of this invasive insect look like mud and they can be spread by vehicle transport including recreational vehicles, cargo carriers (truck transport) and freight trains. They can also be spread through trade materials sold in infested areas that are shipped out of state including nursery stock, outdoor furniture, lumber, etc. Anyone receiving goods from the east coast should inspect for signs of the insect, especially if the commodity is to be kept outdoors.

Fig 3 Spotted Lanternfly Photo

Figure 6. Be aware of insects that resemble SLF when reporting spotted lanternfly.

Full Article >>>

Resources:
Spotted lanternfly: Everything You Need to Know in 30 Minutes, Video, Emerald Ash Borer University
Invasive plants: impact on environment and people, The Education Store
Woodland Management Moment: Invasive Species Control Process, Video, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources YouTube Channel
Invasive Species, Playlist, Purdue Extension – FNR YouTube Channel
What are invasive species and why should I care?, Got Nature? Blog, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources
Report Invasive
Indiana Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology
Purdue Landscape Report

Clifford Sadof, Professor of Entomology
Purdue Department of Entomology

Elizabeth Barnes, Exotic Forest Pest Specialist
Purdue Department of Entomology

Amy Stone, Extension Educator
Ohio State Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources


Posted on July 2nd, 2021 in Alert, Wildlife | No Comments »

MyDNR Newsletter, Indiana Department of Forestry and Natural Resources (IDNR): DNR biologists have confirmed a black bear sighting that occurred in northeast Vanderburgh County June 21st. The closest town to the location is Elberfeld, in Warrick County.

Biologists confirmed the bear from photos taken by the landowner.IDNR Black Bear Photo

“This is Indiana’s fourth confirmed black bear,” said Brad Westrich, DNR mammalogist. “With expanding bear populations in neighboring states, this is expected.”

“Human-bear conflicts can be avoided if you remove or secure potential food sources from your yard. Bears can smell food from more than a mile away.”

Black bears are rarely aggressive toward humans.

If you see a black bear:

  • Do not feed it.
  • Observe it from a distance.
  • Do not climb a tree.
  • Advertise your presence by shouting and waving your arms and backing slowly away.
  • Report bear sightings to the Indiana Division of Fish & Wildlife here.

Most problems that occur with bears arise when bears associate food sources with humans and lose their fear of people.

More guidelines for reducing or eliminating the potential for bear-human conflicts:

  • Remove bird feeders and bird food if a bear is reported in your area.
  • Clean and store away grills after use.
  • Eliminate food attractants by placing garbage cans inside a garage or shed.
  • Pick ripe fruits and vegetables as soon as possible or place an electric fence around them to ensure bears cannot reach them.
  • Consolidate beehives you may have and place an electric fence around them.
  • Don’t leave pet food outside overnight.
  • Don’t add meat or sweets to a compost pile.
  • Don’t climb a tree if you encounter a bear; wait in a vehicle or building for the bear to leave the area.

To view all DNR news releases, please see dnr.IN.gov.

Resources:
Wildlife, Playlist, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources YouTube Channel
Black Bears, Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR)
Report a Black Bear Sighting, Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR)
Unexpected Plants and Animals in Indiana: Black Bear, College of Agriculture – Forestry and Natural Resources

Indiana Department of Natural Resources


Posted on June 30th, 2021 in Alert, Disease, Wildlife | No Comments »

Starting in May, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) began to receive reports of sick and dying songbirds from several counties around the state. As of now, the cause of the illness remains a mystery although submitted specimens have tested negative for avian influenza and West Nile virus according to the DNR. Affected birds have white crust and discharge around the eyes and damage to their nervous system. Reports of sick birds have expanded to many more counties in Indiana.

Several diseases that affect songbirds are transmitted from one animal to another. Bird feeders can increase the likelihood of disease transmission by facilitating close contact among birds. Even though the disease and its mode of transmission in this case is unknown, the DNR is recommending all Hoosiers remove their birdfeeders.

Blue jay on bird feeder.Officials recommend the following steps:

  • Use the DNR sick/dead wildlife reporting tool at on.IN.gov/sickwildlife to alert DNR staff.
  • Stop feeding birds until the mortality event has concluded.
  • Clean feeders and baths with a 10% bleach solution.
  • Avoid handling birds. If you need to handle birds, wear disposable gloves.
  • When removing dead birds, wear disposable gloves and place birds and gloves in a sealable plastic bag to dispose with household trash.
  • Keep pets away from sick or dead birds as a precaution.
  • Proper care of bird feeders and seed is an important part of preventing disease transmission at birdfeeders.

The Audubon Society recommends the following best practices:

  • Clean feeders monthly using one part bleach to nine parts warm water. Soak the feeder in the solution for a few minutes, rinse, and air dry.
  • If uneaten food is accumulating in or under feeders, consider using less food or switch to a seed more to the birds’ liking.
  • If birds are fighting over space at a feeder, consider adding more feeders to alleviate the congestion that can potentially be responsible for the rapid spread of disease.
  • Avoid throwing large amounts of food on the ground or alternate ground feeding areas so that uneaten food does not accumulate and develop bacteria or mold.

Resources:
DNR recommends removal of birdfeeders statewide – June 25, Indiana Department of Natural Resources
Birdfeeder tips, The National Audubon Society
Birds and Residential Window Strikes: Tips for Prevention, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Breeding Birds and Forest Management: the Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment and the Central Hardwoods Region, The Education Store
Managing Woodlands for Birds Video, Purdue Extension-Forestry and Natural Resources YouTube Channel

Brian MacGowan, Wildlife Extension Specialist
Purdue University, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Curious about the upcoming cicada emergence? What is different about this species than the ones you see every summer? What effect can they have on wildlife or on your trees and shrubs? Find out from Purdue Extension wildlife specialist Jarred Brooke, forester Lenny Farlee and Purdue Entomology’s Elizabeth Barnes. Don’t miss the question and answer time with our experts discussing “all things cicadas”.

If you have any questions regarding wildlife, trees, forest management, wood products, natural resource planning or other natural resource topics, feel free to contact us by using our Ask an Expert web page.

Resources:
Billions of Cicadas Are Coming This Spring; What Does That Mean for Wildlife?, Got Nature? Blog, Purdue Extension-Forestry and Natural Resources (FNR)
17-year Cicadas Are Coming: Are You Ready?, Purdue Landscape Report
17 Ways to Make the Most of the 17-year Cicada Emergence, Purdue College of Agriculture
Periodical Cicada in Indiana, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Cicada Killers, The Education Store
Purdue Cicada Tracker, Purdue Extension-Master Gardener Program

Dr. Elizabeth Barnes, Exotic Forest Pest Educator
Purdue Department of Entomology

Lenny Farlee, Sustaining Hardwood Extension Specialist
Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources

Jarred Brooke, Wildlife Extension Specialist
Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources


Posted on January 15th, 2021 in Alert, How To, Safety, Urban Forestry, Wildlife | No Comments »

coyotesMyDNR Newsletter, Indiana Department of Forestry and Natural Resources (IDNR): Indiana residents are more likely to see coyotes during wintertime, but sightings are no cause for alarm. Coyotes become more active during winter as young coyotes leave their families to find a new home and coyotes begin breeding. Coyotes may look larger than they are due to their thick winter coats, but the average coyote only weighs 20-30 pounds.

General characteristics

  • The coyote closely resembles a German shepherd dog in height and shape but it carries its tail below the level of its back instead of curved upward and is generally half the weight of a German shepherd.
  • Coyotes have a long slender snout and large, pointed ears.
  • The upper body is a grizzled gray or buff, with a reddish brown or gray muzzle and legs. The belly is white, cream-colored or reddish yellow.
  • The coyote has a bushy tail, which it carries below the level of its back.
  • Coyotes average 25 pounds (ranging from 20 to 50 pounds), and they measure 40 to 50 inches long from nose to tail tip.
  • Coyotes are elusive and normally avoid humans.
  • They can be active day or night, but are typically most active at dawn and dusk.
  • The coyote communicates by barking, yipping and howling.

Distribution and abundance

Coyotes are present in all sections of the state. There are records of coyotes in Indiana as early as 1816, though they likely inhabited Indiana well before that time. Bounties were in place in Indiana on coyotes from at least 1849 through the late 1960s. Despite this persecution by early European settlers, coyotes persisted in Indiana. Historically, coyote populations were limited in range to the prairie regions of the state, and expansion may have partially been limited because wolves suppress coyote populations, and both red and gray wolves were once abundant in Indiana. However, with the eradication of wolves and conversion of habitat to farmland, coyotes have been able to expand and adapt to new habitats.  Statewide coyote abundance has slowly increased as coyotes continued to expand into previously unoccupied habitat.  Today, coyotes occupy all of Indiana, no matter the habitat type or amount of development.

For more information, please visit Indiana Department of Forestry and Natural Resources (IDNR).

To subscribe for the monthly newsletter view: MyDNR Email Newsletter.

Resources
Coyotes, IN DNR
Coyotes (PDF), Wildlife Conflicts, Department of Entomology, Purdue University
 Ask the Expert: Coexisting with Coyotes, Video, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources Youtube channel
Dealing with Nuisance Coyotes, Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IN DNR)-Fish and Wildlife
Urban Coyotes – Should You Be Concerned?, Got Nature? Blog
Urban Coyote Research Center, Urban Coyote Ecology & Management, Cook County, Illinois

Indiana Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


In this edition of Wildlife Habitat Hint, Purdue wildlife extension specialist Jarred Brooke shares methods to control the invasive sericea lespedeza. This plant species, though was once used for erosion control and mineland reclamation, is too invasive and of little wildlife value.

If you have any questions regarding wildlife, trees, forest management, wood products, natural resource planning or other natural resource topics, feel free to contact us by using our Ask an Expert web page.

Resources
Sericea Lespedeza: Plague on the Prairie, Purdue Extension
Wildlife Habitat Hint, Playlist, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resouces
Invasive Species, Playlist
A Woodland Management Moment, Playlist
Woodland Stewardship for Landowners, Playlist
Habitat Help LIVE Q&A – Native Grasses and Forbs for Wildlife, Video, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources Youtube channel
Renovating Native Warm-Season Grass Stands for Wildlife: A Land Manager’s Guide, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center

Jarred Brooke, Wildlife Extension Specialist
Purdue Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Posted on September 10th, 2020 in Alert, Forestry, Forests and Street Trees, How To, Plants, Safety | No Comments »

Purdue Landscape Report: Have you noticed large, messy webs on trees? You may have seen a colony of fall webworms. These caterpillars hatch in mid-July but tend to become more noticeable as the summer progresses. They often eat branches bare of leaves but are they a threat to tree health?

What do they look like?

Fall webworms are small, fuzzy pale-yellow caterpillars (figure 1) that build large, conspicuous white webs in trees in the late summer (figure 2). Their webs stretch over tree branches and grow over the course of the summer. When disturbed, the caterpillars will violently thrash back and forth in a bid to ward off predators.

gallagher

Fig1. A colony of fall webworm caterpillars feeding on a leaf. Note that the web covers the leaves they are currently eating. Photo by Judy Gallagher.

web_msumuh

Fig2. Trees will often have multiple fall webworm webs on them. This photo shows a typical number of webs for a large tree. Notice that the webs tend to be on the ends of branches and that the leaf damage is concentrated close to each web. Photo by Ken Gibson.

What kind of damage do they cause?
Fall webworms eat the leaves of many species of deciduous trees and bushes. This damage occurs late in the summer shortly before the trees normally drop their leaves for fall. Therefore, fall webworms very rarely do serious damage to trees. In most cases the trees will grow their leaves back the following spring. On rare occasions, a tree that is already highly stressed may be further weakened by fall webworm damage. However, most trees, even heavily infested trees, are minimally affected and show no signs of damage the following spring.

Do they need to be managed?
Fall webworm damage generally looks much worse than it is. In general, trees only need to be managed for fall webworm if the owner is concerned about aesthetics. In that case, the easiest means of management is pulling the web off the tree by hand and putting it in a bucket of soapy water or freezing it. Some people may be sensitive to the caterpillars’ hairs so gloves should be worn to prevent contact.

In cases where the webs are too high up to be reached, they can be managed through insecticides. Further instructions can be found here.

Cover image by Photo by msumuh on Flickr.

Resources
Fall Webworm Bulletin, Purdue Extension -Entomology
Which Web is Which, Purdue Landscape Report
Will My Trees Recover After Losing Their Leaves?, Purdue Landscape Report
Safe Caterpillar Control, Purdue Landscape Report
Mimosa Webworm, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Sod Webworms, Turf Science at Purdue University
Bagworm caterpillars are out feeding, be ready to spray your trees, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources

ELizabeth Barnes, Exotic Forest Pest Educator
Purdue University Department of Entomology


Posted on July 24th, 2020 in Alert, Forestry, Gardening, Plants, Safety | No Comments »

Purdue Landscape Report: Now that we’ve reach midsummer, many people tending to small plants and bushes may notice small odd round grey objects attached to their plants that are made by potter wasps. Do you need to do anything about them? Do these nests help or harm your plants? And are they dangerous to people?

What do they look like?
You are more likely to notice the nests of potter wasps than the adults. Potter wasp nests often look, like the name suggests, like a small grey pot (figure 1). They are rounded with a small opening that looks like the neck of a vase and are about the size of a cherry tomato. These wasps will attach their nests to many different surfaces but tend to prefer plant and bush stems. Potter wasp nests are often found hidden behind foliage in bushes.

Potter wasp adults come in a variety of colors but all of them look like small hornets. The most common species found in Indiana are mostly black with pale yellow bands around their abdomen (figure 2).

figure2

Figure 2. An adult potter wasp resting. This is just one of many different species of potter wasps. Photo by Fyn Kynd on flickr

figure 1

Figure 1. Close up of a potter wasp nest attached to the stem of a house plant. Photo by Elizabeth Barnes, Department of Entomology, Purdue University.

How do they help plants?
Each “pot” that the wasps build is a tiny nursery for a single wasp. Adult potter wasps lay a single egg in each “pot” and then fill it with paralyzed caterpillars and small beetle larvae. When the wasp egg hatches it has all the food it needs to develop into an adult contained in the pot. Each wasp does a small part to keep down the number of caterpillars in the landscape which can reduce the amount of leaf damage on nearby plants.

Will they hurt me?
Probably not! Potter wasps don’t defend their nests and are generally not aggressive. Unless you actively try to bother them they will probably not bother you. If you need to remove one of their nests, you can simply pull it off the plant or object that it’s attached to. However, since they help with pest control, you may want to either leave the nest be or relocate it to a different section of the landscape.

Does anything else look like the “pots”?
Although the “pots” have a very distinct shape there are a few other things that could be confused with them at first glance. Mantis egg masses (ootheca) and some types of galls are both about the same size as potter wasp nests and also often grey. However, they both lack the vase neck-like opening that potter wasp nests have.

What should I do if I see one?
Let it be! Since these wasps rarely sting and help keep caterpillar populations down leave them alone so that they can continue to act as biocontrol agents. If you think you’ve seen a potter wasp or one of their nests and would like help identifying it, take a picture and either upload it to a community science project like iNaturalist or send a picture to the author of this article.

Resources
Social Bees and Wasps, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Parasitic Wasps, The Education Store
Mud Daubers, The Education Store
Cicada Killers, The Education Store
Industrial, Institutional, Structural and Health-Related Pest Management, The Education Store

Elizabeth E Barnes, Exotic Forest Pest Educator
Purdue University Department of Entomology


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