Massachusetts is in the midst of the worst plague of gypsy moth caterpillars since 1981, said Joseph Elkinton, an entomologist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. “It’s everywhere,” Elkinton said. “You can hear the frass falling,” he added, using the scientific term for caterpillar droppings. “And you can hear the chewing; it’s quite a dramatic phenomenon.” (Boston Globe 6/30/16)
News from the Media
Every two years, UMass Extension offers it's popular Green School, a comprehensive 12-day certificate short course for Green Industry professionals taught by UMass Extension specialists and University of Massachusetts faculty.
This year, Green School runs Oct. 24–Dec. 12, twice weekly from 9 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. at the Doubletree Hotel, 11 Beaver St, Milford, Massachusetts. This course will not be offered again until 2018. Pre-registration is required, as space is limited. (Lawn and Landscape 6/29/16)
Welcome to the year of the gypsy moth caterpillar. The tiny critters are feasting on leaves and wreaking havoc on trees, mostly oak, but not exclusively. “I would say almost surely this is the largest outbreak we’ve seen since 1981,” said Joe Elkinton, professor of entomology in UMass Amherst’s department of environmental conservation. “This is unprecedented. It’s been 35 years." (Enterprise News 6/28/16)
Gov. Charlie Baker declared June 20–26 as “Massachusetts Pollinator Week.” In support of this declaration, a celebration was held at UMass Amherst’s Agricultural Learning Center to open the first state apiary.
John Lebeaux, commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources; Daniel Sieger, Massachusetts assistant secretary for the environment; and Kim Skyrm, state apiary inspector, examined full Langstroth bee frames. (Lancaster Farming News 6/24/16, Republican 6/24/16)
An article examining the factors that make the West Chop pitch pine tree perfectly suited for Atlantic islands mentions a recent report from the UMass Amherst Center for Food, Agriculture, and the Environment that found last year the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation had found southern pine beetles in traps on Martha’s Vineyard. The department had not, however, observed any signs of infestation or any trees killed by the beetle, the only serious threat facing pitch pines on Martha’s Vineyard. (Martha’s Vineyard Times, 6/8/16)
AMHERST, Mass. – As New England's blueberry season approaches, University of Massachusetts Amherst doctoral candidate Matt Boyer says a fungal pathogen of highbush blueberries known as mummy berry is a common threat to growers, and if left untreated can destroy up to 50 percent of a crop. It is so named because it produces dead-looking, berry-shaped lumps instead of healthy berries. (Scienmag 6/2/16)
A new interactive mapping tool developed by Kevin McGarigal and his graduate students at the UMass Landscape Ecology Lab is available to land trusts as they make strategic decisions about a major conservation vision for the Connecticut River watershed. “Connect the Connecticut” will help conservation groups in four New England states prioritize and coordinate land acquisition efforts within the 11,250 square-mile watershed, with an eye toward habitat resiliency in the face of climate change. (Republican 6/7/16)
Gypsy moths are defoliating trees on Cape Cod and across southern New England, increasing fire risk. Tawny Simisky, UMass Amherst entomology specialist, comments. (fox25boston 6/27/16)
The lights are finally on in a small storefront on Worthington Street in downtown Springfield, just in time for the official June 8 kick-off gala for Make-It Springfield, the “pop-up makerspace” that’s aimed not just at refurbishing the empty storefront it moved into, but also providing opportunities for residents that they might not otherwise get.
Michael DiPasquale, the director of the UMass Amherst Design Center in Springfield and one of the people responsible for making the project a reality, has been making the rounds. (Valley Advocate 6/16)
“I would say almost surely this is the largest outbreak we’ve seen since 1981,” said Joe Elkinton, professor of entomology in UMass Amherst’s department of environmental conservation. “This is unprecedented. It’s been 35 years. I don’t think it’s anywhere as bad as it was in 1981, but it’s more widespread than in recent years.” (Taunton Daily Gazette 06/18/16)