June 27, 2007

Woollybears in the Garden

The woollybear is a common and well-known caterpillar. Though most people have one kind of woollybear in mind, there are as many as 8 different species in the U.S. that could legitimately be called woollybears because of the dense, bristly hair that covers their bodies. Woollybears are the caterpillar stage of medium sized moths known as tiger moths.

Masked Chafers and Japanese Beetles Have Emerged

Tis the season and the adult beetles of the annual white grubs have emerged. Several callers have mentioned swarms of "millions" of beetles either emerging up out of the ground or swarming around the lights at the softball diamond or street corner.

The majority of June beetles seen at this time throughout the state are the masked chafers. This small member of the Junebug (scarab) family is about one-half inch long and nearly as tall as it is wide. The color is straw-tan to light brown and there is a dark brown "mask" across the face.

Heartwood Rots of Trees

The sulphur shelf fungus (Laetiporus sulphureus) has been fruiting on the trunks of trees on ISU campus, and in the woods elsewhere. Their large bright yellow and orange overlapping fruiting structures mark them as one of the most colorful of the wood rotting shelf fungi that fruit on living or dead trees. "Well ok," you might say. "We are happy to have such a lovely fungus recycle the wood from a dead tree, but what does it mean to have a shelf fungus fruit on a living tree? Should we be concerned? Is there anything we can do for the tree?