20 May 1994
Volume 2: no. 5
It seems that spring is going by much faster this year than any I can remember, perhaps it is because of the extremely warm days we have had. Many of the farmers have almost completely finished planting their crops (cotton, corn, rice and soybeans). This is really somewhat phenomenal, considering that in most years we string planting from mid-April through early June. There will still be crops planted during much of that time, but the big push is about over with for 1994. Those of us who make our living `chasing bugs' have been working hard to explain why we have had heavy outbreaks of armyworms in pastures, lawns and in some row crop areas in the past few weeks. As with most animals, food availability and weather patterns affect the ebb and flow of insects in many ways which we do not understand. All I can really say is there were a `lot of them' crawling everywhere and in some cases they were eating most everything green they could find. One lady collected a 5 quart bucket of armyworms from her carport in a day. Folks, that's a lot of worms!
Spring /summer entomology contests are just around the corner, so it is time for you to get your insect collection down to check it to see what needs to be replaced and how it can be improved. Be sure to refurbish the moth balls in your box as Dermistids can cause a lot of damage in unprotected collections. Mississippi has new study sheets for county, district and state contests; these are available from your local 4-H Youth Agent.
There are a large number of beautiful moths still flying. These slow fliers are attracted to lights and are not hard to capture. Anywhere there is an all night light, you stand a possibility for finding many different types of moths. Be sure to check different types of light sources for some are more attractive to certain species than others. A blacklight is very attractive to most moths. The light can be back lighted by a white sheet suspended on poles, see the figure on page 2. Many of the larger moths fly quite late in the night, so a regular check of the sheet during the night might be important. Check surrounding areas as well for the moths will often rest close by, especially if other surfaces reflect the rays of the blacklight. Look closely, for many of them will be quite well camouflaged. Luna moths have already been seen quite abundantly this spring, Cecropia moths are flying at this time in Mississippi, and other species will come out still later, so you night owls have another excuse to stay up all night. Birds often feed on many of these night flyers, so you'll have to beat them up to catch the best specimens. Use the entomological blacklight, available from BioQuip Products, P.O. Box 61, Santa Montica, CA 90406, or Amer. Bio. Supply, 1330 Dillon Heights Ave., Baltimore, MD 21228; cost ca. $10.00. (The blacklight information was obtained from `Growing Moths, by Robert Dirig, New York State College,4-H Members' Guide M-6-6.)
Set the blacklight up facing the sheet. Wooden stakes, badminton or even volley ball poles may be used to support the sheet. Regular `black-tube' blacklights (the kind used for posters, etc.) are not as good as the `white-tube' blacklights.
The 4-H Entomology camp is a GO!!!!! We are frantically getting all the equipment together so that we can do our thing for the week. Each camper will get a collecting net and some other goodies. We are looking forward to spending the week learning about insects, having fun, and just simply `chasing bugs.' We hope that this will be the first of many such excursions, in fact we are tentatively planning a `preying mantis hunt' this fall. There will be more about that in a future Gloworm.
This is the second year of production of the Gloworm, and it has been a lot of fun for me. Along the way, for one reason or another I have added people's names to the mailing list. It has grown! So it was suggested that we request that you the reader decide whether you still wanted to receive it. I have included the renewal coupon in most of the mailings since the beginning of the year. If you want to continue to receive the letter after this one and have not sent the coupon back to me, please do so this month. Otherwise we will drop your name from the mailing list. Comments, suggestions, and antedotes are always welcome. Send us the names and addresses of others who are interested as well, and we'll add them to the list.
Dr. Michael R. Williams
Entomology & Plant Pathology
Mississippi State, MS 39762-9775
phone - 601-325-2085
home - 601-323-5699
FAX - 601-325-8837