Ah, yes, summertime

By Dudley Wooten - PDT Columnist

Ah, yes, let’s hear it for the good ol’ summertime. Summer means so many different things to everyone. For the kids, it’s a break from school and for many families it’s a time for vacation . I remember when our kids were small, we would go south to the beach in Florida, Virginia, or the Carolinas. Now we’re more likely to go north in the summer. The last 4 years have been Michigan, England, Alaska, and Michigan again. It makes more sense. In the summer, do you need it 15 degrees cooler or warmer? There’s you sign.

In the summer it’s also time for the planet’s most successful creatures to flourish. This is the time for the insect world to come out of it’s diapause (dormant) stage (which is their version of hibernation). They actually have the metabolic ability to change their blood to an anti-freeze and wait out winter. With the Spring Equinox, they’re miraculously transformed back into action for infestation of your porch, lawn, and picnic.

We started in April/May with spraying tent caterpillars. Then, we treated lawns for grubs and moles. Ending May, we’re after ticks and mosquitoes in lawn and shrubs. We’re also spraying trees and shrubs for Japanese beetles and spider mites on the farm. The cattle got their “pour – on” lice and worm treatment, in April. In May, they got their “rub-on” fly treatment and pinkeye preventative. Isn’t entomology a wonderful fact of life?

Insects are truly the most successful of all the animal groups. There are almost a million known species of insects and probably a million known species of insects and probably a million more yet to be discovered. They’ve existed on earth for hundreds of millions of years and they occur almost everywhere on land and fresh water.

They have evolved and adapted miraculously down through the years in their ability to find food, find mates, and flourish in the most hostile environments. It’s no wonder they flock to lawn and landscape. It’s like, “It’s what’s for dinner,” on Easy Street.

Aside from all these pests, let’s take a look at a more friendly critter – the cecropia moth. They are in the moth/butterfly order “Lepidoptera.” Moths have been around 140 million years and butterflies go back 40 million years, Both are important pollinators, while butterflies are diurnal and moths are usually nocturnal. Butterflies rest with their wings up and moths rest with their wings down and flat.

Butterflies have slender bodies and moths are more chunky. Both feed on nectar. The butterfly antennae is slim and has a club on the end, while that of the moth is “feathery” with no club at the end. Many moths don’t feed as adults and have no mouth parts. Moth caterpillars weave a cocoon of silk around them for pupation, while most butterflies don’t weave cocoons.

The Cecropia Moth is common to the Eastern U.S and is an easy find in the caterpillar stage. It’s a big, green, horned, ugly, leaf eater. The adult is a tawny, brown winged moth with white crescents and rusty colored crossbars. It’s our largest moth in North America with a five and seven-eighths inch wing span. They eat a lot of tree leaves and fly in May and June. The males will fly to find the females. The females will fly after their mate. The female secrets a pheromone (like smoke) that the male flies into and finds her.

They will mate at dawn and stay at it like a couple of drunk monkeys ‘til dusk. She will then go lay 350 eggs and 2 might make it to reproduce.

Both male and female adults only live about 5 days. He spends his short life mating and she spends hers laying eggs.

This is a bug’s life in the good ol’ summertime. It will conclude on the Scioto County Fair Equinox and next year, we’ll do it all over again.

By Dudley Wooten

PDT Columnist

Dudley Wooten is the owner/operator of Wooten’s Landscaping and Nursery and can be contacted at 740-820-8210.

Dudley Wooten is the owner/operator of Wooten’s Landscaping and Nursery and can be contacted at 740-820-8210.