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2019 Spring Class
Insects Are (Mostly) Our Friends
Instructor: Judy Feinstein, Gaby Howard, Cathie Murray, Kit Pfeiffer, Karen Simpson
Tuesdays • 3/19-5/7 • 10:15 AM-12:15 PM
Location: Randall 250
See an overview of each weeks class topics.
INTRO TO INSECTS AND THEIR KIN, and hands-on use of insect collection to identify insects to Order.
Hello “Insects” students and naturalist-teachers,
Thank you all so much for the positive and energetic start you gave to our first Insect class Tuesday. We are looking forward to the semester!
Sue’s powerpoint: Entomology Insects and their kin
Homework (Never required, but usually fun!): You were given a small assignment for next Tuesday. It is attached here in case you missed it.
Improvements: We hope to continually improve the class; please share your ideas.
Next week we will bring in some LED lamps to make it easier to see the insect specimens.
Sharing: Every week we will devote the first 10 minutes or so to small group sharing of recent insect encounters, so keep your eyes and ears open! Ideas:
Check the snow for “snow fleas”Check your wood pile for overwintering larvae, beetles or mothsCheck the wood chips from pileated woodpecker activity for ant bodies.
Communication: All 5 of the co-teachers have our emails visible to you in the address portion of the emails we send our students. Feel free to contact any one of us about the class. For now all the students are in bcc.
SINGING INSECTS: A Musical Communication. We will explore the different ways that the”singing” insects (Orthoptera) produce sound and we’ll learn to recognize different species’ “songs.” We’ll also investigate how these insects “hear.” And we’ll look at specimens up close to see these fascinating structures. Finally, we’ll create an Orthoptera orchestra!
Hello “Insects” students and fellow teachers,
Singing Insects: Nature’s Orchestra:
A 15 minute presentation by the two Cornell scientists on the reasons and mechanisms of insect song.
A Guide to the Voices of Crickets, Katydids & Cicadas
This is the recording you all created (Thanks to Lisa Bailey who sent this to me after class. For me, it opened up in iTunes and played. If you can’t hear it, we’ll see if we can package it differently).
Insects and their Kin: Fear, Love and Public Health
HELLO INSECT FANS 🙂
One way to open your eyes to unnoticed beauty is to ask yourself, “What if I had never seen this before? What if I knew I would never see it again?”
A few links to the information Judy and Gaby shared:
• Cochineal Bugs Create Red Dye: A Moment in Science
• A very partial list of helpful insects
• History of the Boll Weevil Monument in Enterprise, Alabama
Rainbow Scarab beetles
• How a 17th century entomologist/artist Maria Sibylla Merian laid the foundations of Modern Entomology (thanks to Karen Janus, Senior College Student 🙂
• The BBC gents re: Why Beetles are Amazing!
• National Geographic piece about how Ladybird Beetles fold their wings.
• Gaby also suggested this report on how termites have helped people improve architecture.
First-Ever Look at the Intricate Way
Ladybugs Fold Their Wings
Here is a great intro to
creating and maintaining a bee hotel.
If you have a bee hotel already, bring it in to share with class. If it is inhabited, which you can tell by the tunnels being blocked off, you might leave it home as bees are starting to emerge.
Synchronicity: Birds, Insects, and Plants
Hello “Insect” class,
HOMEWORK: Next week Roger Rittmaster, retired endocrinologist and now Maine Master Naturalist, will help us learn to use photographs of insects to ID the insects. He will bring flash drives with Maine insect photos if you don’t have any. You can practice using insects you already think you have identified.
Roger has 3 favorite websites for this purpose, and he thinks if you learn to use them in class you will enjoy them too:
- You will also benefit from bookmarking GoBotany, so you can be more confident of host plants. You do not need to establish an account at GoBotany to use it.
If you have any questions or concerns, just write back to me. Thanks! Cathie
PREPARATION: Please bring your laptop or iPad to class next week if you have one. If you don’t, you can buddy up with someone who does. You will get online using a guest password at UMA. Bring a surge protector if you think you’ll need to power up.
- If you have any photos of insects, find a way to make them easily accessible to you during class by creating a file, an album, or whatever works for you.
- Before next Tuesday please create an account for yourself at at least one of the following. Roger would love it if you would create an account at all 3.
Hello UMA Insect Lovers,
Chemical Ecology of Insects
After Longfellow’s, we will have lunch together (possibly at The Old Post Office Cafe in Mount Vernon). We can carpool from Longfellow’s.
POST-CLASS FOLLOW UP:
Hello fellow Insect appreciators,
Integrated Pest Management: Dave LeBlanc’s jam-packed session on how Longfellow’s uses various biological controls to prevent pest outbreaks was so fascinating! Who knew you could plant grass in a box, seed it with aphids that only eat grass, then seed it with a wasp that eats all kinds of aphids, then…if any other aphids are out on the greenhouse that generalist wasp would go out and parasitize them? Dave’s extensive experience with greenhouse plant pests (aphids, thrips, spider mites, etc.), his understanding of their life cycles and vulnerabilities combined with his avid learning about European methods of biological control (bacteria, wasps, nematodes and more) has radically changed their pest management practices to be more preventative and sustainable. And beneficial insects play a huge role.
Native and pollinator-friendly plants: Sue McIntire has been growing and nurturing plants for customers to take home for over 35 years. She shared as much of her wisdom as she could pack into the 45 minutes we had. As Kit said at the end, “can I take you home with me?”. Sue segued from Dave’s talk about greenhouse pests to discuss pest control on the outdoor plants. Important message: know your pests and know what your beneficial insects look like at the stage they are eating your pests. For instance, it’s not the adult stage of a lady bug beetle that does the hard work, it’s an earlier instar. Did you know they look like this?
Bumblebees are not the solitary bees we talked about a couple weeks ago. They live in small colonies with a division of labor. But they are great pollinators and they are in trouble.
Kalyn Bickerman-Martens, PhD candidate in etymology at UMO will share what she has learned about Bumble Bee Health; Impact of Pesticides; Maine Bumble Bee Atlas (citizen science). This may be the week we make “bee hotels” for native bees.
WEEK 7 NOTES:
Please see the notes emailed to you for more details and the link.
Wild Seed Project and Pollinator-friendly Neighborhoods and Flyways
May 7, our last class: Karen Simpson will share stories with us of the insects that share her multi-season garden with her. I’ve seen a preview and I think you will enjoy and be inspired 🙂
How are you all feeling about the insect world?
I hope you are a bit more fascinated by it than when we first met back in March.
I am grateful to all of you for taking or co-teaching this class. It wouldn’t have happened otherwise, and I have learned so much along the way … Thank you!
WEEK 8 NOTES:
Dear Insect Class:
Here is a link to Karen’s presentation,
Gardening for Pollinators_KSimpson2019.pdf.
The file was too big (65 MB) to send via email. If you have any difficulty, please let me know and I’ll find a way to get it to you.
Hello Insect lovers,
I hope you are all enjoying summer, on the days the temperature goes over 70!
There is some GOOD NEWS …
- The cool rainy spring has led to fungal infections in the brown tail moth caterpillars, so they may not reproduce as robustly as feared. That would be ok 🙂
- The same conditions have been great for perennials and some garden crops. The mosquitos, ticks and black flies seem happy, it’s true, but more enjoyable insects are showing up as well.
Kit saw a monarch butterfly this month!
Check out what we found while walking through a field at the KLT’s Hutchinson Pond preserve (see photo at bottom right).
I was quite surprised to learn…
just email me back and I’ll share.
On Mon, Jul 1, 2019 at 9:39 PM
Sorry not to respond earlier, Cathy! I love Doug Tallamy and have been trying to follow his recommendations for going native. Is the picture one of those exotic looking caterpillars in his video? And is that the head end or the rear? I’m thinking the head. But as to what is going on I can’t even guess. Please write!
Date: Mon, Jul 1, 2019 at 10:12 PM
Subject: Re: final class notes on Insects as summer truly begins…maybe!
To: Dace Weiss
Hi Dace, and since you wrote to all of us teachers, I will reply all,I don’t think this critter was in his video, but he has so many that it may show up in one.I took this picture while on a Maine Entomological Society field trip to Hutchinson Pond, a KLT site.I was told by the experienced entomologists I was with that it is a spring instar (caterpillar stage) of the Viceroy butterfly!Apparently the first couple of instars occur in the late summer/fall, then it overwinters rolled up in a leaf.By the time I saw it it was moving on, eating willows and poplars, and was going to pupate soon and become the butterfly.It looked even more like bird poop in person than it does in the picture!Re: head, I believe the head is the section on the left side of the picture. You can see one of the antennae, and those raised yellow bumps are near the head.Have fun observing the critters in your world this summer 🙂Cathie
UPCOMING EVENTS –
Thursday, May 9 • 5-6:30 pm
Kennebec Land Trust event
LIFE ALONG A MAINE STREAM
Reynolds Forest, Sidney – The Kennebec Land Trust is holding its first Lyceum Field Trip. David Courtemanch and Tom Danielson, biologists, will lead a walk to explore aquatic insects at the Reynolds Forest in Sidney. Streams provide an important microhabitat in the landscape. Our trip along Goff Brook will focus on life in and around the water. Bring binoculars and boots. No registration necessary, please call KLT with any questions, 207- 377-2848.
Saturday, June 1 • 10 am
Maine Entomological Society
FIELD DAY and other MES activities
Hutchinson Pond, Manchester
Newcomers and experienced entomologists alike are invited to come and learn about insect identification in this ecologically diverse conservation area. RSVP to Dana Michaud (872-7683)
ARTICLES, VIDEOS, ETC. –
THE INSECT APOCALYPSE IS HERE
A New York Times report on the evidence and implications of the decline of insects all around us.
EDIBLE INSECTS IN MAINE?
Both Bob O’Halloran and Judy Feinstein forwarded recent stories about a small business in Maine going big with edible insects. Crickets that taste like cotton candy?
Find out more here and here.
This video explains the importance of plants that support caterpillars, not just pollinators. So fascinating! Who knew it takes >6000 caterpillars to fledge one nest of chickadees? And then the parents have to keep feeding them!
By Herb Wilson
Like some birds, bumblebees live in colonies. Unlike these birds, the bees are all related, but not all reproduce.
Encourage the good insects to get on the job
By Tom Atwell
Plenty of bugs can help in your fight against aphids and their ilk. Step one: Attract the beneficials to your garden.
Class size 10-20 students
3 seats remaining
This team of Maine Master Naturalists, along with guest speakers, has offered numerous Senior College classes in the past, from survey courses to deep dives into trees and birds. Everyone on the team has completed the rigorous year-long Maine Master Naturalist program. We offer these courses to share our excitement about the natural world. And yes, we know some of you have clamored for a Birds II class, but bear with us. We realized many bird species in Maine rely on insects for their existence, either directly as food, or indirectly through plant seeds and fruits arising from insect pollination, or from relying on food animals that ate insects. We are excited to explore the amazing world of insects with you!
Photo: Caterpillar of Black Swallowtail butterfly by Judith Feinstein