Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Stewardship Network conference: The Science, Practice, & Art of Restoring Native Ecosystems

Last week four members of the ALE Lab attended the Annual Stewardship Network conference in East Lansing, MI. We sat in on multiple workshops and presentations, ate great food, and met up with some old friends! All four of us presented posters in the student competition:

Caitlin:  Effects of Urban Land Use Change on Spider Community Structure

Ben: Habitat Additions and the Effects Observed on Natural Enemies and Pests in Ohio Pumpkin Crops

Scott: Bee Diversity and Pollination Services Provided to Urban Garden and Turf-Based Vacant Lot Habitats

Chelsea: The Predator Composition of Coccinellid Egg Masses Varies Among Egg Mass Species and Across Foraging Habitats; Considerations for Native Coccinellid

Group picture at breakfast

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Insect inspires LED technology

Photuris lucicrescens  (Photograhper: Bruce Marlin) 

Scientists from Canada, France and Belgium have increased the amount of light released from LEDs (Light-emitting diode) by 55 percent. The discovery is from the abdomen of Photuris firefly, where there are serrated scales which enhance the glow emitted. These structures decrease internal reflections, causing more light to escape. This adaptation is beneficial for the fireflies because more light means being more attractive to mates.

Firelfy scales

Light produced by LEDs faces the same challenge as light from the abdomen of a firefly. Much of the light is reflected back into the device reducing the efficiency of LEDs. Scientists were able to recreate the fireflies serrated surface and overlay it on a LED increasing the emitted light by 55 percent.

This technology would not only help save energy, but also shows that much of our technology can be improved by studying mechanisms and structures that already exist in nature.

MIT Technology Review

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Battling USDA's top-ranked invasive insect

 credit: David R. Lance, USDA APHIS
The brown marmorated stink bug causes problems not only farmers and gardeners, but can be a problem for anyone who lives in a building at some point...so...everyone. This invader from Asia was accidentally introduced to the United States, and was first discovered on US soil in 1988. Theys aggregate to overwinter, and can find their way into homes. They don't bite, or spread disease, but they do leave behind a foul odor when disturbed. In addition to being a house pest they cause severe economic damage to fruit and vegetable crops.

Being ranked as the top "invasive insect of interest" by the USDA has lead to a large mass of research. Scientists from a laboratory in Beltsville, WI have identified an "aggregation pheromone" which could be used to trap the bugs and curb their population growth. The pheromone is released by the male bugs as they feed and it attracts adults and nymphs of both sexes. Other molecular research is being conducted as well to find out which genes could be targeted to control the pest.

Ohio State University also maintains a data collection program with a map where the stink bug has been detected in Ohio: Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Data


Combating USDA's Top-ranked insect
Penn State fact sheet
UofMaryland fact sheet