POSTPONED! NEW DATE IS TUES. FEB. 6TH AT 3:30. New registrations being accepted. Our District is partnering with Friends of Sears Island (FOSI) to offer after school educational programs under their new Science Squad program. On January 30th, WCSW Technical Director Aleta McKeage will lead children 8-12 in an after school program called Alien Invaders, to be held at the Belfast Free Library. See the graphic below for more information. Other programs will be offered each month, most involving outdoor learning on Sears Island. All programs are free and open to all, and require a parent to attend as well. For more information and to register, visit the FOSI website. Who knew invasive pests could be fun?
The invasive winter moth defoliation was first recorded in Maine in 2012 and now the moths have been detected from Kittery to Mount Desert Island. The larvae (caterpillars) of winter moth feed on the leaves deciduous trees and shrubs such as oaks, maples, apples and blueberries, in early spring. Heavy defoliation for several consecutive years leads to branch dieback and tree mortality. Winter moth defoliation has contributed to tens of thousands of acres of oak mortality in Massachusetts and now there is oak mortality in Cape Elizabeth.
Entomologists at the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Maine Forest Service (MFS) are gearing up for winter moth with two initiatives. On Wednesday, November 29th they will be setting out parasitic flies (Cyzenis albicans) in South Portland as part of a biocontrol project to control the invasive winter moth (Operophtera brumata). The MFS is also encouraging the public to report winter moth sightings through an online survey: http://www.maine.gov/dacf/wintermothsurvey. – MFS
We have added many useful links to resources teachers can use in the classroom when teaching about agriculture, nature and other land-based topics. The page also has information on new programs for teachers available in Waldo County. Check out the new section here.
You can often find Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii) right in your own yard or nearby, as it has been a popular landscape plant for many decades. It is now banned from being sold in Maine, however, as it is highly invasive in our forests and can form dense stands that prevent trees and other native plants from growing. As deer and other herbivores prefer other plants, it gets a competitive boost from our large deer population. Fall is a good time of year to see the bush, as it is sporting many tiny, oblong red fruits hanging along its thorny branches. It also has very small, teardrop-shaped leaves (see photo). Barberry has also been implicated in increased incidence of tick-borne Lyme disease–see this video for more information: https://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/local/Expert-Suggestions-for-Removing-Japanese-Barberry–448183243.html.
If you own forest or fields, taking time to survey your land for this noxious bush and removing it is worth the effort before it becomes a big job to get rid of it. The plant can be pulled by a tractor with a brush chain, or dug out by hand, which is best done after cutting it just above ground level with a brush cutter or loppers to avoid handling the thorny branches. It is also easily killed by a foliar application of herbicide (Follow directions on the label and applicable laws when using herbicide).
Related plants such as reddish cultivars of barberry and common barberry (Berberis vulgaris) are also considered invasive and are banned from being sold in Maine.
If you want to replace barberry in your landscaped area, many attractive native bushes offer color and interest similar to barberry, including American cranberry, also called highbush cranberry (Viburnum trilobum) and Virginia rose (Rosa virginiana).
WCSW has joined the effort to support the work of the American Chestnut Foundation to develop a hybrid chestnut tree resistant to chestnut blight. This summer, our interns and a volunteer planted four trees which will be carefully monitored for health and resistance in the coming years. To learn more about the project, check out the American Chestnut Foundation in Maine.