Wooly Adelgids

 

Tsuga canadensis the year we discovered Adelges tsugae (woolly adelgid)

HWA distribution courtesy NYS DEC

Bad news this year – walking across the creek bridge next to our house I got smacked in the face by a hemlock branch encrusted with Adelges tsugae (wooly adelgids). Currently a serious threat to Tsuga canadensis (hemlock) here in New York, adelgids can kill a tree in as little as four years by tapping directly into the trees food storage cells. One insect can be responsible for orginating as many as 40,000 descendants in a single season!

Hemlock distribution courtesy NYS Hemlock Initiative

This is a big deal in our neck of the woods. Hemlocks are the third most common tree in our forests, and are what is called a “foundation” species. This means they create the ecosystem where they resides. Also a climax species, they are members of a mature forest, and critical components of a clean water system.

 

We have been keeping an eye on the four mature hemlocks in a row here, and even now see not many more adelgids than these, but it is no more likely there are only the adelgids we see than there is only the one house mouse we caught… still, in a spirit of hopeless optimism inappropriate to our current political climate, my husband cut the branch off and burned it in the wood stove. We then sprayed the ground between the tree and the  house with isopropryl alchohol, ’cause some fell off, okay?

 

Zeb Strickland

We like these trees. They are close to the house but not TOO close (like the Norway spruce), and they hold the creek bank near where it likes to flood the road. Even though we assume the many, more ancient hemlocks in our woods won’t benefit much from stopping adelgids down here, we suddenly feel on the front lines of an invasion. These trees are on a direct path to a work site, and we don’t want to become vectors ourselves, spreading the little bastards to uninfected areas.So we have asked Forest and Water Solutions to come have a look.

I met Zeb back when I was part of the Cornell Botanic Gardens Natural Areas Academy for a few years. A great teacher, we spent some time discussing the pro and cons of pesticides and certification in their application. (I got to “shoot” some Japanese knotweed under his supervision, a highlight of my time there.) So we were already pretty confident when we contacted him, and his easy manner and thorough explanation of the process cinched it. We signed up for a single basal bark application for four trees.

Forest and Water Solutions

I was able to stand nearby and watch. It didn’t take long, or cost much. Zeb used two chemicals, one faster acting and the other good for five years or so. For those of you rightly concerned about the over use of pesticides, I was pleased to see how careful and contained the process was. Yes, we could have left these trees alone. Would their death have been certain, or is it possible experiments in the introduction of natural predators would have progressed enough in time to save them? If not, does it matter that these four trees, out of the hundreds near us,survive? I don’t know. We weighed the options and we made this choice. I wish us all luck.

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Gallery Night with Friends

Just a quick post that is not so much about an event as it is about good company. But first about Gallery Night Ithaca

Art walks are not unique to Ithaca, of course, but being a college slash tourist town, we have more than your average number of small venues willing to hang a show, and an ungodly number of artists available to fill them. It’s all within walking distance downtown, and there’s free snacks and wine or cider at most of them. Not that I care.

. Kenneth McLaurin

At the CAP Art Space the show was titled “Why I Did It”. This is one of my favorite stops as they is usually have an extremely wide variety of works in all media and styles. At their periodic fund raiser, they sell donated art that you, yes YOU can afford to buy. The atmosphere is less arty and more community party, and this week there was even a stand up comedian. Kenneth McLaurin did a series of three minute bits. He made the mostly white audience laugh and squirm, so you know he’s good!

The CSMA gallery was another highlight. The We Are Ithaca portrait project was on display, and I’ll just quote form the projects website:

Jyl Dowd

“WE ARE ITHACA is a hosting a multi-faceted portrait project in 2017/2018 that uses the power of photography to engage diverse communities within our city in dialogue and celebration of our complex identity. At the heart of WE ARE ITHACA is the photographic portrait project carried out by Project Director/photographer Robyn Wishna, a small group of Ithaca College  students and volunteers. This is a project of the Community Arts Partnership made possible by a grant from the Park Foundation.” (There’s CAP again!)

This is a good segue into the friends part. Long time (as in our adult children were toddlers together) friend Elise Skalwold was involved as a project  associate. And right there on the wall (as well as standing next to me) was one of my two favorite people to wander gallery night with, Jyl Dowd, the development coordinator at The Cancer Resource Center. Turns out between her and Mike, our enthusiastic gallery night companion, you can get yourself introduced to just about everybody in town in under two hours.

 

Speaking of which, that’s Mike on the right, with Matthew Petti, whose assemblages at Sunny Days included rescued bits of cutting boards, various glassed slides and mysterious pieces of metal evocative of Victorian curio cabinet collections.

sculptures by Matthew Petti

I’m afraid you only got a taste of the many works of art on display that night. You’ll just have to go for yourself next First Friday of the month. And if you are really lucky, maybe you’ll see Mike there. Just be sure to tell him what day you were born…