What do catalpa hornworms (Ceratomia catalpae), tomato hornworms (Manduca quinquemaculata) and tobacco hornworms (M. sexta) all have in common?
This map shows the average date of the single coldest day of the winter (measured by a thermometer). For stations with 15+ complete years of data since 1981, the median date is used. This is generally 5-15 days after the low mark of climate normals.
While all is quite in the gypsy moth’s world, much preparation is occurring in Ohio to manage future gypsy moth populations this year as part of the two programs ODA administers: Slow-The-Spread and Suppression. Recently ODA released the schedule for their 2018 Gypsy Moth Treatment Open Houses and the 2018 Treatment Maps. Treatment blocks have been identified and are planned in19 Ohio Counties. Treatments will occur after caterpillars hatch this spring and when weather conditions are favorable. Treatments are made to protect trees from damage from the leaf feeding caterpillars like seen…
Every spring, Yardboy Ron Wilson shares a soil temperature map in his blog and talks about it on his radio show. This map is useful for seeing how soil temperatures are warming and when they are suitable for planting.
I took a look at that map this morning, which can be seen here, and something interesting popped out at me. Soil temperatures are very cold over much of the country, approaching zero degrees Fahrenheit in parts of the midwest. A closer look at the map shows something interesting.
Soil temperatures in the lee of the Great Lakes, near Cleveland, OH, Erie, PA, Buffalo, NY, and Watertown, NY, for example, are quite warm, near freezing and similar to soil temperatures in the south. Why would temperatures in these very cold and snowy locations be so mild? The answer is in the snow.
Many people cry and wail in winter when it snows. Certainly some people in Erie, PA, were crying over the 5 feet of snow they got Christmas week. However, from the perspective of our plants, that snow is a very good thing. Yes, it can get heavy, but it also is a wonderful insulator. Plants under all that snow are protected from the bitter cold, and their root systems in particular are protected. When all that snow melts, soil moisture will be replenished. Observe how the New York State plant hardiness zones, in the map to the right, in the areas adjacent to lakes Erie and Ontario, are as warm as near New York City, and much warmer than nearby interior areas.
So, what about areas that don’t have all that snow? In those areas, plants are fully exposed to the elements and bitter cold. Soil temperatures plunge and root systems chill as well. Sensitive plants may be damaged or even killed in such harsh conditions. Plant hardiness zones are actually colder in areas further south which get inconsistent snow and frequent cold.
So, the next time heavy snow falls, try to remember that your plants benefit greatly from it. It sure is beautiful, too!
‘Tis the season to be holly!
While most of the plant world has dropped their leaves for the winter, some native plants keep pumping out oxygen all winter long like this holly, Ilex spp. The holly is specially adapted to hold its leaves through the winter with a thick cuticle that holds water in and protects it from the freezing. This allows the holly to continue the process of photosynthesis all winter long. Read more here>>>
When you hear a barred owl calling “whooo, who cooks for you?” in the woods, chances are it’s calling from a nest cavity in the limb of a dying tree. When you see the bright red head of a woodpecker as it streaks through the forest, chances are it’s flying from the home it excavated in a hollow snag. When you encounter a fox, field mouse, opossum, raccoon or other woodland mammal, chances are that dead logs, stumps and brush on the forest floor provide the cover these creatures need to survive. And when you turn over a fallen log to find a salamander, you uncover the hidden world that thrives beneath the moist, decaying wood. Read more here>>>
So, how is spring shaping up? As of March 29, Cincinnati was near 200 growing degree days. A year ago we were around 190 on the same date so we are close to where we were a year ago.
Growing Degree Days are a measurement of the growth and development of plants and insects during the growing season. Development does not occur at this time unless the temperature is above a minimum threshold value (base temperature). A base temperature of 50 degrees Fahrenheit is considered acceptable for all plants and insects.
Using phenology research, we can predict approximate bloom times and pest emergence with a reasonable degree of accuracy. Here is where we were as of this writing:
CINCINNATI – 3/29/2017 199
This linked blog post from meteorologist Stu Ostro lends some sanity to the El Nino hype: Click here>>>
Tough and rugged, the Eastern Prickly Pear cactus is hardy throughout most of North America. For those who would like a garden with a Southwest theme, this cactus would be an excellent choice.
The best scenario for a butterfly garden is to have plants at all levels of strata, beginning with groundcovers, annual and perennial flowers, shrubs, vines, and finally, at the upper level, trees.
Mt. Redoubt in Alaska is showing a steam plume and may erupt.Â For more information, click here.