Lots of crowsfoot moss and fewer stink bugs

A forest ground cover common to Frederick County is the fan clubmoss (Lycopodium digitatum). It is sometimes referred to as crowsfoot clubmoss, ground pine or ground cedar. Its evergreen branches can be up to 3 inches long.

Clubmoss is one of the plants on the forest floor that add beauty to our forests. It grows well in shaded, moderately damp and slightly acidic soils. Alkaloids present in clubmoss discourage animals from eating it. In fall, the plant shoots up "clubs" that turn beige and produce a dustlike spore for species propagation.

Stink bug update

Brown marmorated stink bug populations were steadily growing throughout the region to the point that Frederick County residents were expecting large swarms in 2011. However, compared with last year, stink bug populations are showing a fairly significant decline.

For instance, many local fruit growers saw up to a 75 percent loss of their crops to stink bugs in 2010, and initial indications are that these losses average 5 to 15 percent this season. Also, in most households, the presence of stink bugs is down significantly.

So, what happened to the stink bugs? No one knows for sure, but some explanations for the decline in crop damage and overall numbers include the approval of two insecticides for emergency stink bug control. The cool wet spring this year permitted only one generation of stink bugs to become established versus last year when stink bugs had two generations. Finally, it is believed that stink bug numbers increased to the point that birds and other insects may have learned to feed on them.

In any event, a multidisciplinary group of specialists has convened to study the stink bug with the goal of developing chemical, ecological and biological controls. After this study a report will be published on the biology, ecology and management of the stink bug. Lets hope, severe stink bug outbreaks will be a thing of the past.

Nature Notes for 12/18/2011