Got Nature? Blog

Familiar with surprise lilies? Indiana has a native surprise onion!

Many yards where I grew up in southern Indiana were graced with surprise lilies. These plants grew long narrow leaves in the spring, which faded and died by early summer. After a pause with no evidence of the plant, long stems with pink lily-like flowers emerged, with no leaves to be seen.

Ramps foliage is often found in clusters or patches in early spring

Ramps foliage is often found in clusters or patches in early spring. These leaves will die before summer.

While these plants are not a native species, we do have a native with similar habits that is a distant relative of the surprise lily. That plant is ramps, also known as wild leek and a variety of other local names. There are two species of ramps recognized now – the more common broad-leaved ramps, Allium tricoccum, and the narrow-leaved ramps, Allium burdickii. Ramps are related to onions and garlic and have odor and taste reminiscent of those plants. Ramps foliage emerges early in the spring and was one of the earliest green edibles available to First Nations people and early European settlers.

Many communities developed festivals or celebrations centered on the emergence of ramps as a sign of spring and some fresh greens to eat. The bright green leaves emerge before the tree leaves and fade before summer, but by the first half of June expect to see thin stems with a rounded cluster of small white flowers emerge – our surprise onion! It may take a ramps plant seven to ten years from seed to produce a flower, so this is a slow-growing and long-lived forest perennial. The flowers are pollinated by insects and produce round black seeds that may stay on the stalk through winter.

Newly emerged flower stem and buds and the blooming flowers of ramps.

Newly emerged flower stem and buds and the blooming flowers of ramps.

Look for ramps in well-shaded forest areas with moist soils. They have a scattered distribution across Indiana, so you won’t find them in every woodland. The leaves and bulbs are edible, but absolute certainty of ID is essential as there are some toxic plants that look similar.  Check ID references and spend some time with experienced foragers before eating any wild plants. The onion/garlic odor of ramps is a good indicator for positive ID.

Since this is a slow growing plant with a limited distribution, over-collection is a threat. A responsible harvesting technique is to harvest one leaf from mature plants, leaving the other leaves and the bulb. If you harvest the whole plant, take less than 5 percent of the plants in a patch, allowing seeding and bulb division to repopulate the area. Seed or bulbs can also be used to plant new patches. So keep you eyes open for our local surprise flowers this June – ramps!

 

Resources:
ID That Tree, Playlist, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources (FNR) YouTube Channel
A Woodland Management Moment, Playlist, Purdue Extension – FNR YouTube Channel (Against Invasives, Garlic Mustard, Autumn Olive)
Woodland Stewardship for Landowners, Playlist, Purdue Extension – FNR YouTube Channel (Common Buckthorn, Japanese Barberry)
Indiana Department of Natural Resources: Invasive Species
Indiana Invasive Species Council
Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (CISMA)
Episode 11 – Exploring the challenges of Invasive Species, Habitat University-Natural Resource University
What are invasive species and why should I care?, Got Nature? Blog, Purdue Extension – FNR
Shrubs and Woody Vines of Indiana and the Midwest, The Education Store, Purdue Extension Resource Center
Planting Your Tree Part 1: Choosing Your Tree, video, The Education Store
Find an Arborist website, Trees are Good, International Society of Arboriculture (ISA

Lenny Farlee, Extension Forester
Hardwood Tree Improvement and Regeneration Center
Purdue Department of Forestry & Natural Resources


Posted on June 20th, 2024 in Forestry, Gardening, Wildlife | No Comments »

In recognition of Pollinator Week 2024, let’s see what is blooming at Purdue FNR Tippecanoe County property, Martell Forest.

Wild petunia with a bee in itWild petunia, Ruellia sp, are several species found in woodland and sunny edge habitats. The blooms do look like the familiar garden petunia, but it is a different genus of plants. I caught small insects inside the flower, evidence of its pollinator value, although I have read the individual flowers may only last one day.

American cancer root, also called bear corn, looks like a parasitic plant.I came upon a unique parasitic plant that does not have chlorophyll or true leaves, but obtains its nutrients by parasitizing oak trees. This is American cancer root, Conopholis americana, also called bear corn, because of the similarity of the plant structure to an ear of corn. Although it lacks chlorophyll, it does possess flowers that propagate the plant.

Fire pink flower, from the pink family of plants.Not far from the cancer root I found fire pink, Silene virginica. This is one flower that would be hard to miss! This is about as red as any native flower encountered in Indiana forests. If you are wondering why pink is in the name instead of red, it is a member of the pink family of plants, which include carnations and a rare prairie relative, royal catchfly. An effort was made a few years ago to make this our state flower, but that has not been acted upon so far.

Virginia spiderwort, three-petaled violet flower.As I headed downhill I came across Virginia spiderwort, Tradescantia virginiana, with beautiful three-petaled violet to blue flowers clustered at the top of the plant. The flowers typically last only a day, but are rapidly replaced by the numerous buds below the current blooms.

blue eyes grass flowerBlue-eyed grass, Sisyrinchium sp. was encountered in a grassy area near a tree plantation. This is not a grass but several species that are members of the iris family. The tiny blooms and narrow leaves blend into the grass background.

American persimmon, a bell-shaped flower.Some woody plants are blooming in June as well. This is the bell-shaped flower of American persimmon, Diospyros virginiana. Persimmon trees tend to bear either all male or all female flowers on a single tree, but occasionally a tree will have both. Female flowers are solitary on the stems while male flowers tend to be in small clusters.

Rough-leaved dogwood flower.The final bloom I have included is rough-leaved dogwood, Cornus drummondii, a shrub relative of the flowering dogwood that provides a white blossom show earlier in the spring. As the name implies, this shrub has leaves with a slightly sandpaper-texture and clusters of small white flowers that are attractive to many pollinators. This blooms later than several other dogwoods, extending the flowering season.

More about Pollinator Week: this an annual celebration in support of pollinator health that was initiated and is managed by Pollinator Partnership. It is a time to raise awareness for pollinators and spread the word about what we can do to protect them. Pollinators include bees, butterflies, beetles, moths, wasps, hummingbirds, bats, flies, beetles, lizards, rodents and more.

Resources:
USDA Recognizes National Pollinator Week, U.S. Department of Agriculture
Ask an Expert: What’s Buzzing or Not Buzzing About Pollinators, Purdue Extension – Forestry & Natural Resources (FNR) YouTube Channel
Indiana Monarch and Pollinator Conservation website
Protecting Pollinators: Protecting Pollinators in Home Lawns and Landscapes, publication, The Education Store, Purdue Extension’s resource center
Consider Pollinators When Planning Your Garden, Got Nature? Blog, Purdue Extension – FNR
Pollinator Conservation Education, Purdue Entomology
Recommended Indiana-native Plants for Attracting Pollinators (pdf), Purdue Extension – Entomology
Attract Hummingbirds to Your Yard video, Purdue Extension – FNR YouTube Channel
Protecting Pollinators: Biology and Control of Varroa Mites in Bee Hives, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Gardening for Pollinators, Purdue Garden Articles

Lenny Farlee, Extension Forester
Hardwood Tree Improvement and Regeneration Center
Purdue Department of Forestry & Natural Resources


 

Peach trees showing symptoms of peach leaf curl caused by Taphrina

Figure 1: Peach trees showing symptoms of peach leaf curl caused by Taphrina

Purdue Landscape Report: The past two months have been relatively wet and cool to warm. This prolonged period of overcast conditions, high humidity, and light to moderate rainfall is perfect for some of our foliar disease issues.

“April flowers bring May Leaf spots” doesn’t have the right ring to it, but we are seeing quite a bit of leaf curl and leaf blister. These are two disease issues caused by Taphrina spp. fungi. Like the common names of their diseases, the symptoms caused by a Taphrina infection include leaf deformation.

Oak leaf blister symptoms ranging from light green early infections, changing to yellow and then becoming necrotic as the season progresses.

Figure 2: Oak leaf blister symptoms ranging from light green early infections, changing to yellow and then becoming necrotic as the season progresses.

In the case of Peach, the leaves turn light yellow, bright pink, or red where tissue puckers and twists leading to curled leaves. In oak, leaves develop localized blisters that are light green early in the season and are easy to miss since the color is not very different from healthy tissue.

However, the blisters will turn brown later in the season which makes them more noticeable. Maples also get a disease caused by Taphrina, but it does not cause as much distortion as it does on oak or peach. Severe maple leaf blister can lead to leaves becoming slightly contorted, but the primary symptom is brown necrotic lesions.

With cool wet weather over an extended period of time, we have been seeing more foliar disease issues than in the last few years.

Figure 3: Symptoms of leaf blister on maple trees.

Figure 3: Symptoms of leaf blister on maple trees.

Since disease problems can take time to develop, Taphrina is likely just the harbinger for some other disease issues we may see in early summer if moderate conditions continue. If the weather dries out as it heats up, it will halt many of these foliar problems in their tracks.

Original article posted: Purdue Landscape Report

Subscribe and receive the newsletter: Purdue Landscape Report Newsletter.

Resources:
Learn How to Support Oak-Hickory Ecosystems, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources (FNR) Got Nature? Post
“The Nature of Oaks” Webinar, Indiana forestry & Woodland Owners Association
How to Find an Arborist Near You!, Purdue Extension – FNR Got Nature? Post
Diplodia Tip Blight of Two-Needle Pines, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Boxwood Blight, The Education Store
Disease of Landscape Plants: Cedar Apple and Related Rusts on Landscape Plants, The Education Store
Planting Your Tree Part 1: Choosing Your Tree, Purdue Extension YouTube Channel
Indiana Department of Natural Resources: Invasive Species
Indiana Invasive Species Council
Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (CISMA)
Report Invasive, Purdue Extension
Aquatic Invasive Species, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant (IISG)
Episode 11 – Exploring the challenges of Invasive Species, Habitat University-Natural Resource University
What are invasive species and why should I care?, Got Nature? Blog, Purdue Extension – FNR
Shrubs and Woody Vines of Indiana and the Midwest, The Education Store, Purdue Extension Resource Center
Native Trees of the Midwest, The Education Store

John Bonkowski, Lead Extension Administrator
Purdue Department of Botany and Plant Pathology


Posted on June 4th, 2024 in Forestry, How To, Urban Forestry, Wildlife | No Comments »

Oak-hickory forests, which are comprised of a variety of different tree species, shrubs, grasses, sedges and wildflowers, as well as wildlife, including songbirds, are important to Indiana’s biodiversity. Learn how you can support oak-hickory ecosystems on your property through a new publication, “Forest Stewardship for Oak-Hickory Ecosystems in Indiana,” produced by Let the Sun Shine In – Indiana.

“The goal of this publication is to provide woodland owners with information about the stewardship practices they can use to sustain and enhance oak-hickory ecosystems on their land,” said co-author Jarred Brooke, Purdue Extension wildlife specialist. “Having this information will help them make informed decisions about how to manage their land to meet their forestry and wildlife objectives.”Woodland of oak trees

The publication discusses various methods landowners can use on their properties, from midstory removal to overstory thinning, prescribed fire, supplemental planting, controlling deer browsing, crop tree release and invasive species control. It also details options for timber harvest, which can be used to regenerate the next generation of a forest. Additional resources from forestry and wildlife professionals as well as other publications discussing current research and management tips also are included in this document.

“Oak ecosystem management is confusing,” said co-author Dan Shaver, state forester for the Indiana Natural Resources Conservation Service. “This publication provides easy to understand basic concepts to help landowners see where their property fits in the oak restoration process. It does not answer all questions or provide all the technical details, but it will help reduce confusion and foster better communication and understanding between landowners and foresters.”

The publication is co-authored by Brooke, Shaver and Kyle Brazil, Central Hardwoods Joint Venture coordinator for the American Bird Conservancy.

“The oak-hickory ecosystem of southern Indiana is incredibly important to birds, other wildlife, and overall biodiversity,” Brazil said.

“Unfortunately, it’s continued persistence isn’t a given. Lack of management, and specifically lack of fire, over the past century has left it in peril. Restoring the oak-hickory ecosystem will require a concerted effort and private landowners are a key part of the solution. This publication is intended to help landowners understand how to manage oak ecosystems on their properties, and give them a roadmap for getting started.”

Man standing amidst an Oak-Hickory ecosystem.

Woodland owners who are curious about oak restoration or improving their woodlands for songbirds can reach out to their local IDNR forester, the Let the Sun Shine In – Indiana organization or Purdue Extension to find out how to get started.

Let the Sun Shine In – Indiana is a collaboration of several organizations with a shared goal of maintaining oak-hickory ecosystems for the benefit of the people and wildlife of Southern Indiana.

“The LSSI IN collaboration utilizes education and outreach opportunities for landowners, to inform them of the imperiled Oak-Hickory Ecosystem,” explained Judi Brown, coordinator of the Let the Sun Shine In – Indiana. “Part of this outreach includes providing the Oak Hickory Stewardship Guide to landowners. The Stewardship Guide explains common forest management concepts that they can utilize on their properties, and encourages the growth of oak and hickory trees from the acorn or nut into the forest canopy.”

The primary method of distribution of the Stewardship Guide is through the Indiana DNR district foresters, but the guide also is available online. LSSI IN is providing metal gate signs to recognize the stewardship of forest landowners who are actively managing their forest land.

Support for the stewardship guide was provided by the Central Hardwoods Joint Venture, the American Bird Conservancy, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry, Let the Sun Shine In – Indiana, Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources Extension, the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service and the United States Forest Service.

To view this article along with other news and stories posted on the Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources website view: Publication Teaches Landowners How to Support Oak-Hickory Ecosystems.

Resources
ID That Tree: Shingle Oak, Purdue Extension-Forestry & Natural Resources (FNR) YouTube Channel
ID That Tree: Red Oak Group, Purdue Extension-FNR YouTube Channel
Red Oak Group – Hardwood Lumber and Veneer Series, The Education Store, Purdue Extension’s resource center
Shingle Oak, Morton Arboretum
The Nature of Oaks Webinar, Purdue Extension-FNR YouTube Channel, Shared from Indiana Forestry & Woodland Owners Association
An Introduction to Trees of Indiana, The Education Store, Purdue Extension’s resource center
Native Trees of the Midwest, The Education Store
Shrubs and Woody Vines of Indiana and the Midwest, The Education Store
Investing in Indiana Woodlands, The Education Store
Forest Improvement Handbook, The Education Store
ID That Tree, Purdue Extension-FNR YouTube playlist
Woodland Management Moment , Purdue Extension-FNR YouTube playlist
Invasive Species, Purdue Extension – FNR YouTube Playlist (Asian Bush Honeysuckle, Burning Bush, Callery Pear, Multiflora rose)
Finding help from a professional forester, Indiana Forestry & Woodland Owners Association

Wendy Mayer, FNR Communications Coordinator
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

Jarred Brooke, Wildlife Extension Specialist
Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources


Spongy moth caterpillar feeding on leaf.

Figure 1: Spongy moth caterpillar, credit to John Obermeyer.

Purdue Landscape Report: Spring is always a wonderful, if somewhat chaotic, time of year in Indiana.  Between the heavy rains and beautiful flowers blooming, the months leading up to summer can make your head spin.  While we enjoy the trees greening out and watch out for storms, we need to be aware that spring awakens other organisms, many of which have a major impact on our lives.  This time of the year introduces a host of insect species hatching from eggs, emerging from cocoons, or returning from their overwintering nap, and many of those species mean bad news for our trees.  One of the most impactful species we deal with in Indiana is Lymantria dispar, or the spongy moth.

The spongy moth, so named for the sponge-like egg masses they lay in the early fall, is an invasive species belonging to family Erebidae, a large group of moths that include species such as the woolly bear we see every year in Indiana.  Spongy moth is a native to Eurasia, and historical record shows it has caused problems throughout Europe as early as the seventeenth century.  In the late nineteenth century, an amateur entomologist and would-be entrepreneur brought spongy moth to North America in a failed attempt to create a new silk moth hybrid.  Inevitably, the insect escaped captivity and has since spread through several states over the last century, including the northern portion of Indiana.

Mating spongy moth adults.

Figure 2: Mating spongy moth adults, credit to John Obermeyer.

Spongy moth is a generalist pest that strips leaf tissue from many species of trees, though it has a particular preference for oak.  Like all butterflies and moths, the larva, or caterpillar, is the damaging form of this insect.  Spongy moth caterpillars bear chewing mouthparts they use to consume leaf tissue, but they do not attack wood or root systems of their hosts.  Adults are non-feeding and only survive long enough to reproduce.  Spongy moth can produce large populations each year and move quickly across a landscape, creating sudden infestations and near-complete defoliation in those areas.  While trees will typically recover after losing a significant portion of their leaf tissue, repeated infestations will make a host tree more susceptible to disease, reduce resilience, and potentially lead to death.

Like other moths and butterflies, spongy moth has well-defined life stages that can be used to easily identify them.  Caterpillars will begin to appear between mid-April and early May and can be identified by their hairy appearance, distinct black, blue, and red coloration, and the tendency to move up and down the surface of a tree (Fig. 1).  Male larvae will develop through five instars, while female larvae will grow over the course of six instars.  Larvae will enter the pupal stage midsummer and spend approximately ten to twelve days developing. The pupae of this insect are darkly colored and lack the silk cocoon seen in other species.  Adult male moths will emerge in the latter half of the summer season, followed by female moths about a week later.  The moths can be identified by the pattern on their wings: a black chevron associated with a dot on a pale white or cream background (Fig. 2).  Male moths will have large, feathery antennae and are capable of flight, while females are flightless with smaller antennae.  Adult moths will only survive for a few days to reproduce and lay sponge-like egg masses, which will overwinter and hatch the following spring (Fig. 3).

Spongy moth egg mass on tree.

Figure 3: Spongy moth egg mass on tree, credit to John Obermeyer.

Management of spongy moth often involves work by state and federal agencies, such as the Indiana’s Department of Natural Resources.  Within the Hoosier state, the DNR has quarantined several northern counties to prevent movement of materials that could potentially spread spongy moth even further.  They also conduct yearly mitigation programs to eliminate infestations that are outside of the quarantined area.  Indiana DNR, specifically the Division of Entomology and Plant Pathology, posts information on all mitigation efforts as well as hosts public meetings so residents understand what treatments are used for spongy moth management, and how it will affect their community.

Most organizations, including Indiana DNR, typically use two methods to control spongy moth: mating disruption and Btk applications. Mating disruption uses the moth’s biology against it by confounding its ability to locate a mate.  Spongy moths, like many species, use a chemical signal called a pheromone to attract potential mates; male moths follow the trail of pheromones emitted by a female.  By filling an area with the pheromone, the male moths become unable to follow individual chemical signals, resulting in fewer eggs being laid for the next spring.  Pheromones are also highly species-specific, ensuring little to no impact on other organisms. In Indiana, the chemical used for mating disruption is applied aerially to cover a significant area, and the chemical used is made of food grade materials that break down easily.

Btk applications are also done aerially, coating foliage with a selective pesticide that only affects moth and butterfly species.  Btk is a protein derived from a native soil-borne bacteria (Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki) and works by damaging the internal lining of an insect’s gut after being consumed.  This is a pesticide that is commonly applied to all manner of crops, persists only for a short time in the environment, and only harms insects.  It also has the benefit of having minimal impact on pollinators, especially when applied using label directions.

While spongy moth is a serious challenge, there are some options you can use to protect your natural spaces.  The first option, and perhaps the most important, is to be vigilant.  If you live in or near an infestation, get into the habit of checking your trees for egg masses starting in the late summer through the fall.  When you find egg masses, check for small pinholes in the sponge-like covering; the hole is created by a beneficial parasitoid wasp that uses the caterpillars as hosts for their young.  You can also destroy egg masses by using a horticultural oil labeled for that purpose, or by scraping off the egg masses into a bucket of soapy water.  Also be watchful of egg masses being laid on homes, firewood, or the sides and undersides of vehicles that move through infested areas.

Larvae will begin to appear in late April, with warmer temperatures encouraging populations to hatch earlier.  One method of controlling larvae is to use burlap banding as a trap to capture larvae moving up and down the surface of the tree trunk.  This can be done by tying a folded piece of burlap around the trunk of the tree at approximately chest height.  Caterpillars, attempting to hide from predators during the day, will crawl into the folds.  Once the late afternoon arrives, the caterpillars can be removed and destroyed by dumping them into soapy water.  You can also use sticky substances in an effort to capture the caterpillars by coating a tree at chest height with it, but this method has several drawbacks.  Any substrate that is sticky enough to capture spongy moth caterpillars will also capture any other insect, beneficial and damaging, and could potentially catch small mammals and birds as well.

If you plan to use pesticides, May through June is the best time to apply.  Biological pesticides such as Btk, spinosad, and others, are available for homeowner use, as well as systemic insecticides such as dinotefuran and emamectin benzoate.  However, given how widespread the caterpillars can be and the heights they can reach, using some insecticides may not be feasible or may require professional assistance.  Homeowners and property managers should consult certified arborists to learn what options will be best, and use pesticides as per the label directions.

While spongy moth is now a permanent part of our ecosystem, we still want to limit its ability to move into new parts of Indiana.  If you live outside of quarantine areas and find an egg mass, caterpillar, or adult moth, report them by contacting the Indiana Department of Natural Resources at 1-866-NOEXOTIC, or by emailing DEPP@dnr.in.gov; make sure to include pictures and location.  You can also consult your local Extension office for assistance in finding arborists, speaking with specialists, or getting problem insects identified.

Original article posted: Purdue Landscape Report.

Subscribe and receive the newsletter: Purdue Landscape Report Newsletter.

Resources:
Spongy Moth, Indiana Department of Natural Resources
The Spongy Moth in Indiana, Purdue Extension – Entomology
Invasive Species, Playlist, Purdue Extension – FNR YouTube Channel
Report Invasive Species, Purdue Invasive Species
What are invasive species and why should I care?, Got Nature? Blog, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources
Pest Management, The Education Store
Protecting Pollinators: Why Should We Care About Pollinators?, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Subscribe Purdue Extension-Forestry and Natural Resources YouTube Channel

Bob Bruner, Exotic Forest Pest Educator
Purdue Entomology


Posted on May 31st, 2024 in Forestry, Urban Forestry | No Comments »

Eastern cottonwood, fruit and white seed hanging from tree, Purdue Fort Wayne.Populus deltoides, more commonly known as the Eastern cottonwood, becomes a topic of conversation & complaint every year around this time.  A member of the willow family, this tree is found along rivers, roads, in parks, and around residential areas.  It grows to heights of 75 to 100 feet spanning up to 75 feet wide.  It prefers moist to wet well-drained soils but tolerates many types of sites.  Cottonwoods also produce small seeds with a tuft of cotton fluff (to assist with dispersal) that can number in the millions for a single tree.

That’s right, we are in the season of the cottonwood seed.  You may be walking or driving around or just looking out your window and it can look like winter is trying to attack with one last blizzard before summer sets in.  Seed production occurs between May and June for about 2 weeks with the floating cotton balls accumulating on roads and paths, in yards and parks, and in other locations with a little bit of grab.  Seedlings easily germinate, but are delicate, and in urban areas with an abundance of lawn care, many do not survive or are killed by excessive heat or rain.

Many concerns that I hear about are clogging of waterways or air filters, and the worry of fires.  Seeds usually flow easily downstream without the volume or mass to clog waterways.  They can accumulate on air conditioner units or other filters but are easily cleaned off.  Cottonwood seeds are highly flammable, can pose a risk in drier climates, and should not be ignited to clean them up.  They can be cleaned like leaves with fine-tined rakes or picked up in clusters and bagged.  The good news is this usually only lasts for about 2 weeks.

If you do have any questions about managing your cottonwood trees, feel free to contact your local extension office or you can search for ISA-certified arborists in your area at Find an Arborist.

Resources:
ID That Tree, Playlist, Purdue Extension – FNR YouTube Channel (Invasive White Mulberry, Siberian Elm, Tree of Heaven)
Eastern Cottonwood, Article, Purdue Fort Wayne
Find an Arborist video, Trees are Good-International Society of Arboriculture (ISA)
A Woodland Management Moment, Playlist, Purdue Extension – FNR YouTube Channel (Against Invasives, Garlic Mustard, Autumn Olive)
Woodland Stewardship for Landowners, Playlist, Purdue Extension – FNR YouTube Channel (Common Buckthorn, Japanese Barberry)
Trees and Storms – The Education Store, Purdue Education’s resource center
Planting Your Tree, Video, The Education Store
Tree Installation, The Education Store
Indiana Invasive Species Council
Indiana Department of Natural Resources: Invasive Species
Subscribe – Purdue Extension-FNR YouTube Channel

Ben McCallister, Urban Forestry Specialist
Purdue Forestry & Natural Resources


Purdue Plant Doctor website, purdueplantdoctor.com.Purdue Extension NewsWhitely County Posts: The recently launched Purdue Plant Doctor website at purdueplantdoctor.com navigates like a smartphone app and can help growers identify and manage insect pests and diseases of trees, shrubs, and flowers. It will also help growers recognize “good bugs,” those beneficial insects that prey on harmful insect pests or serve as valuable pollinators. Helpful instructional videos provide supplemental content.

Purdue entomologist Cliff Sadof was a key contributor to this site. He said that identifying a plant problem is the first step to improving the health of plants in the landscape. “We created a series of short (5 to 7 min.) YouTube videos to help you learn or just brush up your plant diagnostic skills,” he said. “Each video guides you through the diagnostic process in real landscapes, reviews pest biology, and provides tips on management.” Videos finish with a demonstration of how to use the Purdue Plant Doctor to confirm your diagnosis and get current recommendations. Key moments tabs help you navigate through each video.

Users may watch these videos in English or Spanish from the “Quick Guides” available on the website or directly from YouTube. Some of the topics include:

  • Diagnosing Plant Problems with the Purdue Plant Doctor Web Page: Learn how to diagnose and manage pest and disease problems on ornamental plants and how to keep your plants healthy. The Plant Doctor Web page is a mobile-ready website that can improve communication between plant care professionals and their clientele. Spanish version is also available.
  • Beating Back Borers of Pines and Other Cone Bearing Trees with the Purdue Plant Doctor: Borers can be a real problem in landscapes that use pines and other evergreens to serve as a windbreak or a visual screen. Learn how to detect borer problems before they destroy your planting, and get tips on protecting these coniferous trees from borers. Spanish version is also available.
  • Managing Spider Mite Mayhem with the Purdue Plant Doctor: Spider mites may be small, but they can cause big problems. Learn how to detect mites before they harm plants, and what you can do to keep plants healthy before and after mites have been detected. Spanish version is also available.
  • All You Need to Know about Managing Scales and Mealybugs with the Purdue Plant Doctor: Drought and rising temperatures can make plants more susceptible to scale insects. Learn about the threats these insects pose to your plants and landscapes. Then find out how you can monitor them and improve your ability to keep your plants safe from harm. Spanish version is also available.
  • Taming Aphid Problems with the Purdue Plant Doctor: Aphid problems can turn your landscape into a sticky mess. Learn the threats they pose to your plants and how to detect and manage them. Spanish version is also available.
  • Managing Japanese Beetle with The Purdue Plant Doctor: Japanese beetles can wreak havoc in your landscape by consuming the flowers and leaves of your ornamental planting or by killing your turf. Learn why Japanese beetle traps can make Japanese beetle problems worse. Get the latest information about these beetles and how to control them. Spanish version is also available.
  • Managing Plant Galls with the Purdue Plant Doctor: Galled about Galls? Want to learn how to diagnose bumps on plants and how they affect plants? This video will discuss the causes of plant galls and what you need to do to keep your plants healthy. Spanish version is also available.

Too often when we see an insect, we automatically think it’s a pest. But that is not always the case. The Purdue Plant Doctor website will also help you recognize beneficial insects like ambush bugs, assassin bugs, ground beetles, soldier beetles, lacewings, and minute pirate bugs.

So, whether you are a homeowner or a landscape professional, the Purdue Plant Doctor can help you manage pests in landscapes and recognize the beneficial insects in landscapes.

More Resources:
Hardwoods of the Central Midwest, Purdue Arboretum Explorer
Forest Improvement Handbook, The Education Store, Purdue Extension’s resource center
ID That Tree, Purdue Extension-Forestry & Natural Resources (FNR) YouTube playlist
Native Trees of the Midwest, The Education Store
Woodland Management Moment , Purdue Extension-FNR YouTube playlist
Tree Installation: Process and Practices, The Education Store, Purdue Extension’s resource center
Planting Your Tree Part 1: Choosing Your Tree, video, The Education Store
Tree Risk Management – The Education Store
Find an Arborist website, Trees are Good, International Society of Arboriculture (ISA)

John E. Woodmansee, Extension Educator – Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR)
Purdue Extension – Whitely County


Posted on May 9th, 2024 in Forestry, How To, Wildlife | No Comments »

Wild Bulletin, Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Fish and Wildlife: The hunt may be over soon, but the fun isn’t. Now is the time to create memories with your bird. You can preserve many parts of your turkey, such as the fan, spurs, and beards, to remind you of the experience. Plus, the meat of the wild turkey is excellent and healthy.

Watch the videos on how to process your turkey on the Indiana DNR – Turkey Hunting YouTube playlist.

Subscribe to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources YouTube Channel.

Subscribe to Wild Bulletin.

Resources:
Truths and Myths about Wild Turkey, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Wildlife, Playlist, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources (FNR) YouTube Channel
Managing Your Property for Fish & Wildlife, Ask an Expert. FNR YouTube Channel
Forest Improvement Handbook, The Education Store
Help With Wild Turkey Populations, Video, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources YouTube Channel
Turkey Brood Reporting, Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IN DNR)
Wild Turkey, Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IN DNR)
Wild Turkey Hunting Biology and Management, Indian Department of Natural Resources (IN DNR)
Subscribe to Purdue Extension-Forestry & Natural Resources YouTube Channel, Wildlife Playlist

Indiana Department of Natural Resources – Division of Fish & Wildlife


The Farmers Helping Hellbenders program is accepting applications for the second round of its Indiana Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) project. The project aims to assist with the conservation/recovery of eastern hellbender salamanders and improvement of aquatic resources in south central Indiana.

Eligible farmers and landowners, who wish to obtain funding to implement practices designed to keep nutrients and soil resources on fields and improve their watersheds, should contact their local NRCS office before May 10 to apply. Financial assistance is available for agricultural lands within the Blue River-Sinking Watershed boundary in Crawford, Floyd, Harrison and Washington counties, where the eastern hellbender can be found and is being actively managed.

Eligible practices for farmers in the project area include conservation cover, grassed waterways, wildlife habitat planting, nutrient management, riparian buffers and many others. Interested farmers and forest landowners who wish to implement conservation practices on their land should discuss their options with their district conservationist. Contact your local district conservationist by visiting Farmers.gov/Service-locator.

Young hellbenders in tank for conservation efforts.While NRCS accepts program applications year-round, Indiana producers and landowners should apply by May 10 to be considered for the current RCPP-Hellbender funding cycle. Applications received after May 10 will automatically be considered during the next funding cycle.

“The Farmers Helping Hellbenders RCPP project enables us to leverage partnerships to make a lasting positive impact on the habitat of the eastern hellbender salamander,” said Damarys Mortenson, state conservationist for the USDA’s NRCS in Indiana. “This project allows Indiana farmers and forestland owners to conserve the vital natural resources on their land while also protecting the habitat for hellbenders and other aquatic animals. It is a win-win.”

The eastern hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis) is a large, fully aquatic salamander, nicknamed the snot otter, water dog, devil dog, Allegheny alligator and water eel among other things. Their decline statewide has been documented as far back as the early-to-mid 1900s as a result of habitat loss and poor water quality. Hellbenders, which are listed as an endangered species in Indiana, play an important role in aquatic ecosystems and are indicators of clean water. Eastern hellbenders need clean water to survive as they breathe through their skin by absorbing oxygen from the river and stream water in which they live.

Hellbender populations are declining across their range, from Missouri to New York. This decline, which affects the hellbender population in Indiana’s Blue River, is likely caused by human influences such as habitat degradation and destruction. The stream-bottom habitat of hellbenders can be degraded by sediment from eroded banks and fields and destroyed when streams are dammed or dredged. Hellbenders are also captured inadvertently by anglers or purposefully for illegal sale in the pet trade. Finally, emerging diseases may be impacting some populatio​ns of hellbenders. Specifically, the chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) and Ranavirus (family Iridoviridae) are considered to be major threats to the persistence of hellbender populations across their range.

For much of the last 17 years, Dr. Rod Williams and his team have been researching eastern hellbenders, spearheading regional conservation efforts and advancing hellbender captive propagation, or the rearing of this ancient animal in captivity and their eventual return to the wild. The partnership had a major breakthrough over the summer of 2023 with the documentation of a young hellbender salamander in the Blue River while conducting routine surveys. This discovery is significant because over the past three to four decades, only adult hellbenders have been documented in the Blue River. The presence of a young salamander suggests that conservation efforts and rearing programs are accomplishing their goals for the recovery of this endangered species.

The Farmers Helping Hellbenders RCPP project is made possible by $2.7 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s RCPP, Purdue and other partnering organizations. The project is led by Purdue with assistance from 14 collaborating public and private organizations on the state and local level including NRCS. The goal of the project is to improve hellbender habitat in a four-county region in south central Indiana by expanding the use of agricultural conservation practices that lead to decreased sediment in local river systems. The project aims to improve water quality, enhance aquatic habitat, increase aquatic wildlife populations, increase riparian and pollinator habitat and protect karst topography.

To view full article with more photos view Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources News & Stories: Farmers Helping Hellbenders RCPP Program Accepting Applications.

Resources:
USDA Awards Farmers Helping Hellbenders Project in Funding, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources (FNR) Got Nature? Blog
Improving Water Quality by Protecting Sinkholes on Your Property, Purdue Extension – FNR YouTube Channel
Improving Water Quality Around Your Farm video, Purdue Extension – FNR YouTube Channel
Adaptations for Aquatic Amphibians, The Education Store, Purdue Extension’s resource center
Hellbenders Rock! Nature of Teaching Lesson Plan, The Education Store
Nature of Teaching – Hellbenders Rock Sneak Peek video, Purdue Extension – FNR YouTube Channel
Nature of Teaching – Hellbenders Rock webinar video, Purdue Extension – FNR YouTube Channel
Learn about hellbenders and take a tour of Purdue’s hellbender rearing facility video, Purdue Extension – FNR YouTube Channel
Learn about the hellbender work at Mesker Park Zoo video, Purdue FNR Facebook
Learn about hellbender work at The Wilds video, Purdue FNR Facebook
Dr. Rod Williams’ 2017 TEDx Talk Help the Hellbenders video, Purdue Extension – FNR YouTube Channel
A Moment in the Wild – Hellbender Hides video, Purdue Extension – FNR YouTube Channel
A Moment in the Wild – Hellbender Release video , Purdue Extension – FNR YouTube Channel

Wendy Mayer, FNR Communications Coordinator
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Posted on May 1st, 2024 in Forestry, Wildlife | No Comments »

Brian MacGowan, Purdue extension wildlife specialist, has been honored with the Hoosier Wildlife Award by the Indiana chapter of The Wildlife Society.

The Hoosier Wildlife Award is given annually to recognize an individual who has made, or is making, a significant contribution to professional wildlife conservation in Indiana through research, management, law enforcement, education or administration.

“The Hoosier Wildlife Award recognizes Brian’s substantial work in the field of wildlife conservation and his dedication to the Indiana Chapter of The Wildlife Society,” said Zachary Voyles, South Region Private Lands Supervisor for the Division of Fish and Wildlife. “His contributions to wildlife research, management and higher education have helped numerous wildlife management professionals become better equipped to manage wildlife in Indiana on behalf of its citizens.”

Brian MacGowan, wildlife extension specialist, receives Hoosier Wildlife Award.MacGowan came to Purdue in 1995 to begin work on his master’s degree in wildlife science under Dr. Harmon “Mickey” Weeks. His thesis was titled “Avian responses to woodland habitats differentially impacted by deer browsing.”

After completing his master’s in 1998, he joined the Purdue Extension staff as a wildlife specialist in 1999. He acted as extension co-coordinator for Purdue FNR from 2007 to 2015 and has served as the sole coordinator since 2015. MacGowan went on to complete his PhD on “Facilitating management and decision-making on private and public forests in Indiana” under Dr. Linda Prokopy in the spring of 2021.

In his time in FNR, he has been honored with the Outstanding Professional Staff Award twice (2005, 2010). He received the Purdue Cooperative Extension Specialists’ Association (PUCESA) Leadership Award in 2021 for his leadership and contribution to the development of FNR 506 course “Theory and Application of Natural Resources Extension Programming” and the creation of the Natural Resources Extension program.

During his career, MacGowan has conducted meaningful research, teaching, and extension programming that has advanced wildlife conservation in Indiana, the Midwest, and more broadly. His contributions include:

  • Organizing over 180 workshops, seminars, and field tours related to wildlife conservation.
  • Delivering over 400 Extension presentations and 60 research presentations and posters.
  • Publishing 75 Extension publications, articles, videos, and book chapters.
  • Publishing 14 peer-reviewed research publications.

MacGowan’s impressive portfolio spans a wide variety of topics from human-wildlife conflict, wildlife damage management, reptile response to forest management, youth natural resources education, and evaluating the impact of extension scholarship. He has been honored for his extension programs and deliverables throughout his career. He won the Agricultural Communications in Education Gold Award twice: for electronic publications “Snakes of the Midwest” in 2005 and for website “Everything Wildlife” in 2003. He also received the Association of Natural Resources Extension Professionals (ANREP) Gold Award for mixed materials “Wildlife CSI Unraveling the Mysteries of Wildlife Crop Damage” in 2007. He also earned the ANREP Silver Award for video/DVD/CD and for web-based courses for “Wildlife CSI Unraveling the Mysteries of Wildlife Crop Damage” in 2007.

MacGowan has been a member of the Indiana Woodland Steward Editorial Board since 2007, is the editor of the Indiana Woodland Steward newsletter and has served as the project investigator for the Renewable Resources Extension Act (RREA) in Indiana. He also organizes the yearly Ohio Valley Woodlands and Wildlife Workshop, conducts professional development workshops for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and other conservation partners and shares his knowledge at many extension events throughout the state.

MacGowan was instrumental in producing the Woodland Stewardship for Landowners video series. He also shared his knowledge on several editions of FNR Ask An Expert and provided instructional assistance regarding protecting plants and shrubs from wildlifehow to stop woodland animals from digging in your flowerpots, deer fencing, hummingbirds and more.

“I’m overwhelmed, especially knowing who has received this honor before me,” MacGowan said. “It’s one of the highlights of my professional career.  Working at Purdue, and really in the wildlife profession, has put me in the position to work with some outstanding individuals. You hope that you have made a difference in people’s lives during your career. I got into the wildlife profession because I loved the outdoors. But, it’s the people you work with every day that makes it special. I’m extremely appreciative and humbled by this honor.”

Previous Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources affiliated winners of the Hoosier Wildlife Award include current or emeritus faculty members Dr. Rob Swihart (2016), Dr. Harmon “Mickey” Weeks (2006) and Dr. Russell E. Mumford (1996).

The Wildlife Society is a professional organization whose membership is comprised of professional wildlife biologists, managers, and scientists.  The mission of The Wildlife Society is to inspire, empower, and enable wildlife professionals to sustain wildlife populations and habitats through science-based management and conservation.  Members are committed to the conservation of natural resources in Indiana, including its soil, water, plants, and wildlife.

Article was shared from Purdue College of Agriculture News: Extension Specialist Brian MacGowan Receives Hoosier Wildlife Award.

Resources:
Agriculture Natural Resources (ANR) Newsletter Features Specialist Brian MacGowan, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources (FNR) Got Nature? Blog
Wildlife, Playlist, Purdue Extension – FNR YouTube Channel
Ask the Expert: Birdwatching, Purdue Extension – FNR YouTube Channel
How to Stop Woodland Animals from Digging in Your Flower Pots, Got Nature? Blog with video, Purdue Extension FNR
Considerations for Trapping Nuisance Wildlife with Box Traps, The Education Store
Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment (HEE) – Wildlife Responses to Timber Harvesting, The Education Store
Snakes and Lizards of Indiana, The Education Store
Turtles of Indiana, The Education Store
Attracting Hummingbirds to Your Yard, The Education Store

Wendy Mayer, FNR Communications Coordinator
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


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