With their marvelous interpretive-dance routines, complex social life, and delicious honey, honeybees are widely respected, but they’re anything but sweet to wild pollinators. In fact, a surfeit of honeybees is a big threat to our native bees and butterflies.
The Mutant (crayfish) Have Landed
Sometime in the 1990s, a mutant crayfish able to conquer and degrade aquatic systems emerged as a result of secret German experiments gone awry. The marmorkreb, a.k.a. marbled crayfish (Procambarus virginalis), is a destructive new species that first appeared aquariums in Germany. However, it’s more likely the result of too much inbreeding in captivity, rather than some mad-scientist scheme, that led to their mutation. They are now here, and your help scouting for them is invaluable.
New York Coyote Parasite Survey
Graduate students at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY ESF) are asking for public assistance in the collection of samples as part of a study for an emerging zoonotic parasite. Samples for this study consist of gastrointestinal tracts from coyotes harvested within DEC Regions 3-7, which can be shipped to SUNY ESF where they will be screened for the parasite Echinococcus spp.
The parasite is a tapeworm that typically infects wild canids (foxes, coyotes) but can infect domestic animals as well as humans. The goal of this study is to identify the distribution of the parasite throughout the sampling range, so that areas of high parasite levels and infection risk can be found.
More information on the project can be found at the NY Echinococcus Project webpage or by emailing Corinne Conlon.
Photo by Gregory VanSplunder.
Species Spotlight: the River Otter
The North American river otter (Lontra canadensis) is a member of the weasel family. They are 3-4 feet long including their tails. They have a streamlined body, short legs with fully webbed feet, a muscular tail, and dense, short, glossy fur—all of which aid them in being excellent swimmers. They also have closeable nostrils and ears for swimming and foraging underwater.
Historically, river otter could be found throughout New York, but they declined due to unregulated harvest, habitat destruction, and water pollution. In the early 1990s, the river otter was only found in the eastern half of New York State. The New York River Otter Project helped bring river otter back to western New York, with the help of volunteers and DEC staff. From 1995 through 2000, 279 river otter were captured in eastern New York and released at 16 different sites across the western part of the state.
Monarchs: How High Can They Fly?
Migrating Monarchs Soaring at Unbelievable Heights
Monarch Migration has been known to be one of nature’s most spectacular events. Every Fall up to 500,000 monarchs leave the colder regions to seek solace in warmer areas throughout the United States as well as Mexico. Many people here in the Adirondacks are aware of when they first see these beauties in early Summer and when they stop seeing them as fall sets in but have never witnessed the gathering of thousands of monarchs in preparation of their migrating group flight.
Fuzzy-Wuzzy Woolly Bears
It’s been a remarkably mild fall. In fact, at the time of this writing (Oct. 27), I still haven’t had a frost at my home, near the Canadian border. But winter is coming. And while winter can be a very picturesque time of the year and getting outdoors in winter can be a lot of fun, harsh winter weather can stop most of us… well… cold.
Someone recently asked me, “What do you think the winter will be like this year?” I simply replied, “I don’t know.”
Even meteorologists, using state-of-the-art models can’t predict weather with 100-percent accuracy. In fact, it seems to me that meteorology is a notoriously inexact science, with accuracy dropping especially quickly as you look more than a week or so into the future.
Evergreen: Not just a term for Trees
It’s not uncommon to immediately think of coniferous trees when hearing the word Evergreen. For us Mountain folks, these tall beauties with multiple hues of green are a welcomed scene of color as the last parcels of leaves fall to the ground and the landscape takes on a dreary, stark appearance. If you care to venture out on a hike, you will find trees aren’t the only plants that keep their lively green shades throughout the coming winter months.
Drivers Urged to Be Alert for Moose in the Adirondacks
If you’re traveling to an outdoor destination this weekend be on the lookout for moose on the move. This time of year, moose are wandering looking for mates, leading them to areas where they are not typically seen. While this improves the opportunities for people to enjoy sightings of a moose, it also increases the danger of colliding with one on the roadway.
Moose are most active at dawn and dusk, which are times of poor visibility. They are also especially difficult to see at night because of their dark brown to black coloring and their height – which puts their head and much of their body above vehicle headlights.
Take the following precautions to prevent moose-vehicle collisions:
Orange Is the New Nuisance
What are round-ish, mostly orange and commonly found in October on front porches or near entryways? Obviously the answer is Harmonia axyridis, a.k.a. the multicolored Asian lady beetle or lady bug. This insect, although beneficial to gardens, is no treat when it gathers by the hundreds on your doors or exterior walls in autumn. And more than a few will find their way indoors.
Help Protect New York’s Bat Populations During Bat Week
Bat Week is a an internationally recognized weeklong focus to raise awareness about the important role bats play in our environment and is a great time to appreciate New York’s nine bat species. Bat Week is observed October 24 through 31 and is organized by representatives from conservation groups and government agencies in the United States and Canada.
Ray Curran and Dan Spada Named Adirondack Land Trust Volunteers of the Year
KEENE, NY — The Adirondack Land Trust recognized two scientists as 2021 Volunteers of the Year for their work to engage people in conservation through natural history.
Friends Ray Curran, of Saranac Lake, and Dan Spada, of Tupper Lake, (pictured here) are volunteers together in many endeavors, including the Northern Forest Atlas, Adirondack Botanical Society, Adirondack Orchid Survey, New York Flora Association, Northern Current music festival, and the Adirondack Land Trust.
Help Track Spotted Lanternfly – Claim a Grid Square to Survey
Spotted lanternfly (SLF) is an invasive pest from Asia that feeds on a variety of plants including grapes, hops, and maple trees, posing a severe threat to New York’s forests and agriculture. SLF has been found in several locations in NY but has not yet spread to much of the state. One potential pathway for the spread of SLF is its preferred host plant, tree-of-heaven (TOH), which is already found in many locations across NY.
Volunteers like you are needed to look for SLF and TOH in your area. You can help protect NY’s agriculture and forests by knowing what to look for and how to report it to NY’s official invasive species database, iMapInvasives. Visit iMap’s website to learn about the project and sign up for a grid square on the map to look for these species out in the field.
Join iMapInvasives and the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets for some tips on how to find these invasive species (particularly adults and egg masses), and for a recap of the incredible monitoring efforts made by volunteers across the state this year:
- Monday October 27, 1 p.m. – Virtual Event: Identifying & Reporting Spotted Lanternfly and Tree-of-heaven with NY iMapInvasives – Register online.
Photo: An adult spotted lanternfly, photo from NYS AGM
Fall Webworms: Spinning their way through the season
As fall sets in, it’s not difficult to identify the tiny creatures called fall webworms. This time of year, these masses of larva have been busy recreating scenes from sleepy hollow as they prepare to over winter in the pupa stage.
This display of web weaving starts when the adult tiger moth lays her eggs on the underside of leaves in ‘hair’-covered clusters of a few hundred. Host plant selection is dependent on factors like the plant’s degree of sun exposure, age, environmental stress undergone, toughness, and nutritional quality. For an insect that needs energy for processes like dispersal or diapause, consuming plants that provide a lot of carbohydrates could is beneficial; for a female insect that is producing eggs, consuming plants that provide a lot of protein is beneficial. In the eastern U.S., pecan trees, black walnut, American elm, hickory, fruit trees, and some maples are preferred hosts.
Butterfly house: Where Humanity and Nature Unite
SKY Lyfe was born out of love for the tiny life keepers, we call bees and butterflies. As apiarists and lepidopterists our hearts were moved over a decade ago, to research and support some of the World’s most innocent insects as well as one of the most feared. It is our mission to bring awareness to these creatures, in hopes of conserving their lives and global importance to humans and animals alike.
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“Adirondack Dinosaurs are far from extinct. In fact, certain species are quietly expanding their territory, migrating. Ancient carnivores slowly reclaiming what was once their domain. Patiently biding their time while they plot their next move. Watching us. Waiting to reclaim their Adirondack apex predator throne.”
Ever since I was a young boy, there have always been three things I’ve dreamed of being when I grow up: major league baseball player, writer, archeologist.
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