Thursday, June 28, 2012

Insect of the Week: Bagworm Moth

This week's featured insect is the bagworm moth pictured below:

Unidentified species Source: Wikipedia
These moths were given the name bagworm because their larvae construct cases out of silk and materials from the surrouding environment (such as twigs), pictured below:

Unidentified species. Source: Wikipedia
Pachythelia villosella
Source: Wikipedia
This bag protects the larva from predators and it also serves as the pupal casing. The adult female resembles are larval form and remains in the bag throughout mating and egg deposition, after which it crawls out of the bag. falls to the ground and dies. There are multiple species of this type which can cause extensive damage to trees and shrubs.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Crazy week ahead...

Ben and Andrea are planning the next week of field work. Sometimes Google maps is just not good enough.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Hiding from the heat

If you look closely you can see three striped cucumber beetles hiding from the summer heat in a squash flower. We are counting cucumber beetles on squash and melons at a field site at OARDC hoping to learn more about different methods to decrease pests and disease in those crops.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Arthropods in the news: Ticks

As you probably all ready know...Lyme disease is a serious bacterial disease transmitted by deer ticks (also known as black legged ticks): Ixodes scapularis, Pictured below:

Photo credit: Jae Nanthranoha (
Ticks are probably my least favorite arthropod, they can sit on a blade of grass for months just waiting for a mammal to walk past, on which they attach and take a blood meal, they are sneaky, and spread multiple diseases. Recently the incidences of Lyme disease have been increasing and scientists have been testing hypotheses hoping to find the mechanism for the spread. It was first hypothesized that the increase in deer populations was causing cases of Lyme disease, but that idea was refuted when it was discovered that the increases were not correlated with eachother. However, as reported in the link posted below, the researchers found that there was a correlation between increasing Lyme disease cases and the decline of the red fox.

MSNBC: Missing foxes fuel spread of Lyme disease

Looking at data from five states, it was discovered that the spread of Lyme disease correlated with the loss of red foxes, while deer populations were remaining steady. The scientists propose that the reason for this may be the increase in Coyote populations which prey on the foxes. The lack of foxes increases the amount of small mammals such as mice which also act of vectors for Lyme disease.

So...more coyotes --> less foxes --> more small mammals --> more Lyme disease. Got it?

Few people would have been able to predict that an increase in Coyote populations would lead to a spread of Lyme disease. However it is well known that alterations in populations of organisms can have unexpected consequences on food webs and within the ecosystem.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Undergraduate in the Spotlight: Heidi

Hello. My name is Heidi Rogers, an Undergraduate Environmental Science Student at California State University Chico. Why have, out of all places, I chosen to go to Ohio for an entomology internship at the OARDC? …I seem to be asked this question often.  I guess a small pilgrimage to the Midwest intrigued me. How can I consider myself a true American if I have never even seen most of the country? How else would I know about the drive in liquor stores? Experience the immensity of the Great Lakes? See the Amish culture? Taste Jeni’s ice cream? Or get the chance to work at one of the nation’s leading entomology research facilities? Back in Chico, my entomology course taught by Dr. Donald Miller, an avid butterfly and moth avenger used The Study of Insects written by Dr. Triplehorn and Dr. Johnson of OSU as our main textbook. So why not come to Ohio!

I wrangled my way into Scott Prajzner’s Graduate study on Pollinators under the tutelage of Dr. Mary Gardiner. Thus far I have driven to 30 sites in Ohio to count Bombus impatiens and conduct floral diversity analysis around the strategically placed hives. 

Scott Prajzner:

Chelsea Smith and Paul Joseph:

You wouldn’t be smiling either if you only knew how many hours it took to count individual flowers in the gardens of “Master Gardeners” (a title to those who, more often than not, have such an extensive diversity of flowering plants collection, that they have designated their backyards as Wilderness Habitat).


Bombus impatiens Doing it’s thang:

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

And...We're Back.

After a break, we are updating the blog again.There have been some changes occurring. While our lab is still based in Wooster, some of the members reside in Columbus adding an extra layer of complication to how our lab works. It wouldn't be ALE lab if it was easy though. Stay tuned for posts about our research, outreach, exciting lab news, and ecological happenings...

ALE lab holiday party. 6 months ago...