By Robert Downes
A devastating onslaught of tent worms is stripping forests of their leaves across Northern Michigan, with a similar invasion of gypsy moths expected in the weeks ahead and no remedy in sight.
“They are especially bad this year,“ says Cindy Rutherford, coordinator for gypsy moth control in the Grand Traverse Conservation District.
The two pests are often thought to be one and the same, but Rutherford notes that tent worms are actually a separate species known as the Eastern tent caterpillar, while gypsy moths hatch in the early summer and occupy the canopy of trees.
“When we sprayed for gypsy moths a couple of years ago, it killed the caterpillars at the same time, but we haven‘t had a suppression program for two years now,“ Rutherford says.
Reason? Hard times for Michigan and a shortfall in federal funds have meant cuts in the State‘s Department of Agriculture budget which funded the spraying program in counties affected by moths and caterpillars.
Although you can find broad stretches of forest stripped bare by tent worms this spring, Rutherford says the pests don‘t tend to kill trees unless there are additional hardships.
“The tent caterpillars do localized damage but don‘t kill the tree,“ she says. “But they can put a lot of stress on trees, and if there is an especially hot summer or a really cold winter, that adds even more stress.“
The gypsy moth infestation is also expected to be worse than usual this year.
“Gypsy moths go in cycles and we‘ve been on a downward cycle over the past few years, so their population is building again. It helps to spray every three or four years.“
Rutherford adds that a gypsy moth infestation for two or three years in a row can kill trees. The gypsy moth is an invasive species from Europe and Asia against which Michigan trees have few defenses.
Gypsy moths were first discovered in Michigan‘s lower peninsula in 1954 and are now considered to be an established species in the state. An outbreak can last from one to three years with common hosts being oaks and aspen trees. The U.S. Forest Service calls the moth‘s caterpillar “one of North America‘s most devastating forest pests.“
Eradicating tent worms and gypsy moths involves spraying affected areas by airplane with a naturally-occurring bacteria. Typically, the State obtains bids to spray areas ranging from 5,000-50,000 acres. In prior years, Grand Traverse County has had as many as 10,000 acres sprayed to kill off the pests.
But this year, with no funding in sight, it‘s up to individual homeowners to take action, at least on tent worms.
Since tent worms come out to feed at night, it‘s best to trim branches containing their nests during the day and either soak them in soapy water or burn them.
As for the trees being stripped in our State forests... they‘re on their own.
TC‘s New ‘Art Farm‘
After almost five years of planning and negotiating, the Little Artshram has a home to call its own at the barns property on the Grand Traverse Commons in Traverse City.
Little Artshram is an art/farm program for kids, best known for spearheading the creation of colorful species-oriented costumes at the Earth Day Parade each year. In April, the organization signed an agreement with local officials to formally occupy the site.
“The barns property and the old farm of the former State Hospital is now our ‘official‘ home-place for our Community Gardens and Art-Farm programs,“ said program founder Penny Krebiehl in a release. “We will be occupying approximately four acres along with an old garage building which we plan to transform into our Art-Farm Workshop and Community Learning Center.“
Little Artshram is offering a number of programs this summer, including Art-Farm Teacher and Apprentice Training, Introductory Permaculture, and a Forest Garden Workshop. If you‘d like to get involved, contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or see www.littleartshram.org.
Extra, Extra: Forum to
Discuss Future of Print
In a story ripped from today‘s headlines, local newsmen will discuss the “Fate of the Print Media“ in a public forum on June 10.
The future of print media across the country is in flux, with many large papers reducing their print days, supplementing with web-only reporting, or stopping the presses altogether.
“What happens next in the evolution of print media is an important topic for our region,“ says Doug Luciani, president of the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce, which is one of the forum sponsors.
Print media has long played a number of important roles in Americas communities, and ours are no different,“ Luciani says. “Whether as a way to keep track of local happenings, acting as a public watchdog, providing images of moments in our lives, or functioning as a major employer and economic driver, newspapers have mattered and still matter.“
Panelists will include Mike Casuscelli, publisher of the Traverse City Record-Eagle; Alan Campbell, publisher of the Leelanau Enterprise; and Robert Downes, managing editor and co-publisher of the Northern Express Weekly. Gregg Smith, former owner and publisher of the Antrim County News, will moderate.
Co-sponsors of the event include the Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC), and the League of Women Voters of the Grand Traverse Area.
The forum will take place from 6-8 p.m. on Wednesday, June 10, at the Oleson Center on the campus of Northwestern Michigan College. The public is invited to attend.
Guns in our parks
U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Menominee) was one of 249 congressmen who voted to allow “law-abiding Americans“ to carry firearms in national parks and wildlife refuges.
“Today 40 states including Michigan allow residents to carry firearms for self-defense, Stupak said in a release. The regulations governing firearms in national parks and wildlife refuges are out of sync with state firearms laws and are inconsistent with regulations for other federal lands. This amendment corrects this discrepancy and affirms Americans Second Amendment rights.
Carrying firearms in national parks was restricted by the Reagan administration in 1983. At that time, only six states allowed residents to carry firearms for self-defense.
The U.S. House of Representatives voted 249-147 to allow guns in parks an amendment, which was added to the Credit Cardholders Bill of Rights by the U.S. Senate. The bill now goes to President Obama for his signature.
Michael Moore‘s new film
“The biggest robbery in the history of this country“ sets the theme for Michael Moore‘s new film, which is set to open Oct. 2.
The film is Moore‘s follow-up to Fahrenheit 9/11, according to a release from Overture Films, which has joined Paramount Vantage in co-financing and distributing the film.
Initially, the film was set to focus on foreign policy, states Overture Films, but as the global economy went sour, Moore decided to “take a comical look at the corporate and political shenanigans that culminated in the massive transfer of taxpayer funds to financial institutions.“
The wealthy, at some point, decided they didnt have enough wealth,“ Moore says. “They wanted more a lot more. So they systematically set about to fleece the American people out of their hard-earned money. Now, why would they do this? That is what I seek to discover in this movie.
New museum opens
The new Eyaawing Museum & Cultural Center opens this week in Peshawbestown, showcasing the culture and history of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians.
The name Eyaawing was selected by tribal members. It translates as Who we are in Anishinaabemowin, the native language of Michigans Anishinaabek.
Located near the Leelanau Sands Casino, the new museum includes a gift shop, with admission by donation. For information, call 231-534-7764 or 231-534-7768.