Taking the Best Pest Photo with your Phone

I get a lot of requests to identify specimens from photos. Emailing a photo of a pest sample rather than finding a container, catching it and bringing it into our office can save considerable time for our clients in the community. If you are able to send me a good photo accompanied by some details of the situation, it can save me considerable time too.

A good photo is one preferably in focus, one which includes some identifying characters of the pest. This can be as simple as the overall shape or as detailed as the presence or absence of wings, hairs, pits, segments or clubs on a specific body part. With spider identification, it is helpful to count the number of eyes and note the eye arrangement on the cephalothorax in order to positively identify the family.

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Tiny Bugs with a BIG Bite!

I’m going to take a moment to vent too ….. I happen to be one of the folks who can’t enjoy the outdoors right now around my home because of all of these tiny, black bugs that bite like the dickens! I get welts from them. My colleague Jody Green braved a “probing” just so we could get the great photo below!

If you are one of the folks suffering from the bites of minute pirate bugs (they look like a black dot on your arm – you may not see the markings as you squish it), here’s an article from one of our Nebraska Extension colleagues Jonathan Larson. Bottom line: There’s not much you can do. Cover up. Try a repellent or baby oil on the skin. Wait for a hard freeze…. oh, and they are beneficial, really – they are … read on —- Soni

Minute pirate bug probing Jody Green's arm

Minute pirate bug probing Jody Green’s arm with its piercing-sucking mouthpart at the front of its head. Photo by Dr. Jody Green, Extension Educator Urban Entomology.

Minute Pirate Bugs: Tiny Bugs with a Bite!
Dr. Jonathan L. Larson, Nebraska Extension
September 19, 2016

Arrr! It is national talk like a pirate day today and it’s truly fitting as we are also receiving the first reports of problems with minute pirate bugs. These bugs get their minute moniker because as adults they are only about 1/8 inch long. Adults are oval-shaped, have a black body with an off-white/brown bar across their back and white diamond on their wing tips. As nymphs they are an orange hue and lack wings, they actually resemble their cousin the bed bug a little bit. Worldwide, there are over 500 species of minute pirate bug but we mainly deal with only one species in this area, the insidious flower beetle (Orius insidiosus). Continue reading

Making Observations

The Story of What You See: Nature Journaling

Nature JournalLooking for special way to document your outdoor adventures? Try nature journaling! Nature journals can be enjoyed by young and the young-at-heart, used at home or on vacation. There’s no right or wrong way to use a nature journal.

You can purchase journals or make your own. Once you have your journal, go outside to your backyard, neighborhood park or a scenic location while you are traveling on vacation. Sit down and look around. What do you see? What do you hear? Make a list or draw a picture of what you see. Write down your feelings and your thoughts. Create a poem. Collect fallen leaves to press in your journal.

Supplies:

  • Notebook or heavy paper
  • pencil or color pencils

Optional supplies:

  • markers
  • watercolor paint and brushes
  • tape
  • scissors
  • glue stick
  • magnifying glass
  • bird, plant, wildlife field guides
  • camera
  • tote bag to carry supplies

Source: Nature Journaling. Youth Gardening Activities – Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County

The Buzz at Cherry Creek – 4-H Youth & Habitat Discovery Photos 20142015 | 2016

More resources:

Make Recycled Paper:

Have a great day!!

Soni

Responsive. Innovative. Trusted.
Nebraska Extension provides research-based information to help you make informed decisions any time, any place, anywhere –

If you don’t live in Lancaster County, Nebraska, please make sure to check out your local extension office too. Your extension office has resources for you, your family and community. To find your local office, visit http://lancaster.unl.edu/office/locate.shtml (nationwide listing).

Build a Solitary Bee Nest Using Recycled Materials

2LeafcutterBee2016No matter where you live – urban/rural, in an apartment or single family home, you can (and should) support native pollinators. Did you know one out of every three bites of food/drink come from native pollinators?

Here’s an activity you can do with the entire family! For more tips and resources on creating pollinator-friendly habitats, visit https://buzzatcherrycreekunl.wordpress.com/

The Buzz at Cherry Creek

Native bees are important pollinators. Some native bees, like leaf cutter bees and mason bees, nest in hollow plant stems.  You can help native solitary bees by providing a man-made bee nest. The kids that attended my Clover College workshop last week made these bee nests. They had a fun time and this would be easy for your family to make for Pollinator Week.

Supplies

1 ¾ inch plastic lid from juice container

Paper towel tube cut to 7 inches in length (we use the tube from automated paper towel dispensers) If you use a regular sized paper towel tube, the plastic juice container lid will need to be 1 ½ inches.

Paper drinking straws cut to 6 inches in length

Mason bee tubes (optional)

Duct tape

Zip ties or twine

supplies Bee Nest supplies: paper towel tube, plastic lid, paper straws and duct tape.

Instructions

Push the juice container lid…

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The Importance Of Outdoor Experiences In The Primary Years

BoyChalk

Our experiences in natural environments can have immediate and long-lasting benefits for both children and adults.

We know outdoor spaces allow children to run, climb, move through space, and “let off steam.” We also know such increased physical activity is associated with decreases in depression and anxiety, and increases in levels of concentration. Outdoor experiences and play are key strategies to address rising childhood obesity rates and ADHD/ADD symptoms. Nature provides endless opportunities for awe, wonder, exploration, and movement — all essential elements to promoting the healthy well-being of young children.

The Importance of Outdoor Experiences in the Primary Years, shares the research on the benefits of being outdoors! This is a free publication from Nebraska Extension.

BoySwimHave you been outside yet today? Better yet — enjoy taking a child outdoors and let them experience the wonders of our natural world.

It’s time for me to head outside!

Have a great day!!

Soni

Responsive. Innovative. Trusted.
Nebraska Extension provides research-based information to help you make informed decisions any time, any place, anywhere –

If you don’t live in Lancaster County, Nebraska, please make sure to check out your local extension office too. Your extension office has resources for you, your family and community. To find your local office, visit http://lancaster.unl.edu/office/locate.shtml (nationwide listing).

Welcome Hummingbirds!

HummingbirdSheri1

In the continental United States, hummingbirds are key in wildflower pollination. Source: USDA Forest Service

Late this afternoon, I caught a glimpse of a tiny hummingbird dodging rain and fighting wind to check out my feeder – no nectar! I rushed in the kitchen and made a batch of nectar (the nectar recipe is below). Once the nectar was cool, I put on a poncho, rain boots and headed out to fill the feeder. Thankfully, she came back.

Hummingbirds are fascinating! Enlist the help of the entire family to attract these tiny birds to your landscape.

Spring migration occurs from mid-April through May. This time of year, hummingbirds move through the area pretty quickly so visits to your feeders may be brief. We’re lucky in eastern Nebraska because some folks have Ruby-throated hummingbirds all summer long. Continue reading

Growing Kids in Your Garden

Connect your child to nature with a garden

My grandson found a swallowtail caterpillar! A garden connects family with nature!

Your landscape is a ready-made science lab for hands-on learning! Whether you have a small backyard, live in an apartment, on a farm or acreage, you can provide important opportunities for your child or grandchild to experience the wonders of nature.

A garden is a great way for children to interact with nature and learn about the food we grow and eat. This year, consider creating a Zoo Garden, Pizza Garden or Salsa Garden! Plan the garden together with your child. If you need plants or seeds, take your child with you to help buy them. Read the seed packets together, talk about measurements and planting depths. Be creative and make markers for your seed rows. You can do the same if you a planting in pots. As your plants grow, you and your child will grow with them. At harvest, the rewards will be a celebration of the foods your child has helped grow. Don’t forget to involve the entire family in the preparation of your bounty for the table! Continue reading