Will fills us in on his recent journeys around PA

Posted: August 2, 2014

Lab assistant Will has been helping study brown marmorated stink bug and pollinators in two distinct studies.
Pyramid traps for capturing brown marmorated stink bugs

Pyramid traps for capturing brown marmorated stink bugs

Hi all, Will here checking in from the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) project. Over the past few weeks I have been traveling all up and down the east coast setting up BMSB pyramid traps. I have traveled to Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland and Pennsylvania placing traps along tree-lined tomato field margins and several rows within those fields to determine when BMSB drop from the trees into these agricultural fields and begin damaging fruit. During my travels I discovered that Germany’s soccer team is the best in the world, that I can blister from 15 minutes in the summer sun, and that concrete trucks can severely damage windshields from a quarter mile away on the interstate.

In lighter news I have also been spending several hours a week becoming acquainted with our voltinism cage. In the voltinism cage we expose BMSB to the environment conditions of State College to determine their maximum generational capacity is in our particular location. For example, State College might have a microclimate that is a few degrees cooler than other locations leading slightly different population dynamics, which might prove to be very significant over the course of a summer. While we have had some difficulty getting the numbers of BMSB we would like, we do seem to be lagging behind other locations, even as close as Gettysburg/Biglerville. This dynamic might explain why BMSB are not as great of an agricultural pest in State College.

While I have been focusing on BMSB, I have also spent a a lot of time helping out with pollinator studies in Lancaster and Columbia County. In this work I have been traveling to fields with either floral provisioning strips or without them and performing pollinator counts to determine the pollination services provided and the pollinator communities that visit pumpkin patches. We hope to determine if there is a difference between the pollinator communities in fields with a floral provisioning strip, and if so, to quantify how beneficial such a strip might be to individual farmers and also perhaps to native bee populations. We would also like to be able to analyze our data to determine if other landscape factors are affecting the pollinator communities. The idea is that floral provisioning strips would provide native bees an opportunity to forage in the early spring and establish hives near the field.

—Will Mitchell, 28 July 2014