Asian beetle attacks Ind. ash trees

Written on most American campground signs is one of the most important rules enforced by campground and forest officials.

It’s also one of the most ignored.

Transporting firewood to multiple campgrounds has led to the rapid transference of the emerald ash borer beetle.

The beetle, native to Asia, has been present in America since 2002 and has since made its way to the Bloomington area.

Drawn to ash trees, the beetles are attacking and killing the trees in the Peppergrass neighborhood of Perry Township, according to a press release by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

“The beetle is here because man has moved firewood,” said Lee Huss, urban forester of the Bloomington Tree Commission. “People bring in their own wood into campgrounds and spread the ash beetle.”

The beetles target the tree, feeding on the ash produced and killing the branches and, eventually, the tree. With the introduction of foreign wood to forests and camps, the beetle is unknowingly and easily spread throughout the state, Huss said.

The destruction process of the ash trees is similar to cutting the arteries of an organism, said Philip Marshall, division director of the Entomology and Plant Pathology Division of the DNR.

The female beetle lays eggs under the bark and scales of ash trees from May to as late as August. The eggs hatch into larvae, which burrow into the sap and cells of the wood, destroying the living tissue of the tree, he said.

“The process takes about three to seven years, from the hatching to the destruction of the tree,” Marshall said.

The beetle was discovered in southern Michigan and identified as Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire.

In 2008, the beetle was discovered in Monroe County, and its presence has since increased, according to the City of Bloomington website.

“The beetle is a fat, lazy bug,” Huss said. “It does not fly far. How it has spread to southern Indiana has to be the movement of wood to a campground.”

Marshall said the spread to the transportation of firewood and logs to the state’s many campgrounds is one possibility.

“There is the natural spread, where the beetle moves itself, and there is artificial spreading, which is man,” he said.

Marshall said the beetle will travel about one and a half to two miles in one year when moving in a natural way and can travel to up to 200 miles with artificial spreading in one year, or even one month.

The beetles, which are metallic green and grow to only about one-third of an inch, are attracted to the many ash trees located in Indiana, according to the Purdue extension in Monroe County.

“The beetle only attacks the ash tree,” Marshall said. “We have tested the beetles on other trees and they cannot survive. They burrow under the bark and sap and die.”

According to the Purdue University extension website of agriculture and natural resources, there are more than 145 million ash trees in Indiana forests, all at risk if the emerald ash beetle is not controlled.

To prevent the invasion from further destroying the trees, options are available for wiping out the beetles.

Insecticides are the most recommended treatment for the ash trees, according to the DNR.

Insecticide formulations include injections directly into the tree, injections into the soil around the tree and sprays covering the tree’s trunk.

“To save a tree, chemical regiments can be used by homeowners,” Huss said. “Professionals have many products they use on the trees at different times, for their treatment.”


River otter population increases in Ind. counties

With whisker-covered brown faces and long thick tails, river otter sightings are rising in Indiana.

Expanding to about 80 percent of Indiana’s counties, river otters are flourishing in the wetlands, rivers and other water-based areas.

“They are aquatic mammals, so they prefer river corridors, streams, wetlands,” said Shawn Rossler, furbearer management biologist of Indiana’s Department of Natural Resources.

From the 2009 State of Indiana’s wildlife diversity report, in 2008, 71 of 92 counties recorded the presence of the otters.

In 1942 river otters in Indiana were absent from the state and were close to endangerment, according to a DNR press release.

In 1995 they were released back into safe habitats in the state.

“A lot of Midwestern states at the time were bringing back the river otters once their habitats were recovered enough,” Rossler said.

More than 300 otters were relocated to 12 sites in northern and southern Indiana from Louisiana, according to the release.

Since 2005, the otters have been nowhere close to the endangerment list and can be found in areas all across the state, according to a release.

Now, they are doing very well, Rossler said.

“Their proportions are expanding,” he said. “They are moving and locating throughout the year.”

Department of Natural Resources Nongame Biologist Scott Johnson said in the release the otters have relocated to habitats that seem unsuitable.

The otters’ diet consists of fish, crawfish and frogs. They can live up to 15 years in the wild, mainly in marshes, ponds and lakes, according to the DNR website.

For private pond owners, the presence of otters and the disappearance of fish is a problem, Rossler said.

“Private ponds that are stocked with fish is an issue because the river otter’s number-one diet is fish,” Ossler said. “They are destroying the owner’s aquaculture commercial.”

In 2011, there were 34 complaints to the district wildlife biologists about river otters eating fish from private ponds, according to the release.

“Owners have to get a permit through Indy and have them confirm that there are otter problems on the property,” Ossler said. “Then, people will remove them from the area.”

River otters also face the problem of being accidentally trapped. According to the State of Indiana Wildlife Diversity Report, during the 2008-09 fur harvest season, furbearers accidentally trapped 43 otters.

Other than working with landowners, the DNR does not have to do anything with the river otters, Rossler said.

“As long as we have rivers and wetlands, they will continue to flourish,” he said.

Shelter seeks donations, pet adoptions

Lend a paw to those who need it this holiday season.

The City of Bloomington Animal Shelter is launching its annual holiday campaigns to help animals currently residing in the shelter during the holidays.

Laurie Ringquist is the director of Animal Care and Control of the City of Bloomington and head of the shelter’s promotions.

“There is no set time for animals in the shelters,” she said. “If they pass our health tests, we keep them as long as it takes to find a home.”

The shelter is organizing several ways to help get the animals out of kennels and into homes.

Ringquist said the shelter tries to move animals in and out faster during the holiday season.

“People are home and students are home for break,” she said. “People have time to care for the new pet.”

The shelter at 3410 S. Walnut St. requests donations for items to make the wait of adoption more comfortable to the animals.

The shelter is looking for toys, treats, bedding and food for cats and dogs.

Other desired items include crates, doghouses, cat litter and monetary donations.
The most needed items include toys and treats because they cannot be purchased with the animal shelter’s budget.

“It helps them have something to do as they wait in the kennels,” Ringquist said.

The shelter runs a food pantry for the community, providing dry dog and cat food.

“It is nice for the community who has financial insecurity and needs help feeding their animals,” Ringquist said.

In addition to accepting donations, the shelter will have its Home for the Holidays Adopt-a-Thon weekend from Dec. 16-18.

With the pick of amounts from Santa’s hat, adopters to be will draw the reduced price of their chosen animal.

Once again, the shelter and B97 Radio are promoting the “12 Strays of Christmas” featuring an adoptable dog and cat on the air every day from Dec. 8-23.

“The radio station is a great supporter and partner for the shelter,” Ringquist said. “It goes on for two weeks, every day and reaches the widest audience.”

The shelter has partnered with B97 Radio for the last couple of years. They also provide pictures of the sheltered animals on its Facebook page, she said.

During the year, the shelter has the highest intake of stray and unwanted animals during the summer, but the shelters are still crowded during the holidays.

Danielle Martin, a junior, took advantage of the cat breeding months, when she said she decided to buy her new pet in early August.

“I picked the shelter because I have never bought a pet, only adopted,” she said. “I wanted to so something good for the shelter and community.”

DNR approves 12 Bicentennial Nature Trust projects

Indiana’s national trails and forests are getting a gift this holiday season, a gift of $2.4 million.

On Friday, the Bicentennial Commission announced the approval of 12 new Bicentennial Nature Trust projects.

The projects are for the renovation, conservation and introduction of new land into each of the selected Indiana counties.

The 12 land trusts were submitted and a panel judged them through the Department of Natural Resources.

Each land application had to follow a set of guidelines and requirements for its eligibility to be considered.

Chris Jensen, director of the Bicentennial Commission, said many projects are currently underway and aiming to be completed by 2016.

“We are hoping that funds will be eligible up until the end of 2016, but it is all dependent on dollars available,” he said.

According to the guidelines written by the BNT, each land trust was chosen for its intent on property protection and acquisition for public use.

The 12 chosen land trusts total about 2,000 acres.

The DNR was created to preserve and protect the conservation and recreational areas throughout Indiana.

The Governor Edgar Whitcomb Nature Center is Perry County’s first DNR property.

“We are really excited to be one of the DNR State Parks,” said Beverly Minto, executive director of Perry County’s Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We are an outdoor community, and it is a great opportunity for DNR to come into the community.”

Minto said former Indiana Gov. Whitcomb donated the nature center to the BNT land trust in October.

The Governor Edgar Whitcomb Nature Park and Retreat was recently released as a new public nature center.

“It is a beautiful area,” she said. “The 144 acres overlook the Ohio River and include three cabins.”

Since 2005, with this program, the state has enhanced the amount of recreational lands by 44,000 acres.

To help celebrate Indiana’s 200 years of statehood in 2016, the BNT was created to expand trails, wetlands and recreation sites.

Gov. Mitch Daniels announced the first program during his 2012 State of the State Address, according to a press release.

Land trusts include the Governor Edgar Whitcomb Nature Park and Retreat of Perry County, DNR Division of State Parks and Reservoirs of Montgomery County, DNR Division of Forestry of Brown County, DNR Division of Nature Preserves of Wayne County, Whitewater Valley Land Trust of Union and Wayne counties, Blackford County Economic Development, NICHES Land Trust of Tippecanoe ad Warren Counties, Hamilton County Parks and Recreation of Hamilton County, Unity Foundation of LaPorte County. LaGrange County Parks and Recreation, ACRES Land Trust of Miami County and ACRES Land Trust of Allen County.

Pumpkin launch attracts crowd despite rain

It was raining cats and pumpkins.

Regardless of the cold, rain and hail, six teams dueling in the pumpkin launch competition drew a crowd and produced a winner Saturday afternoon.

Sponsored by the City of Bloomington’s Parks and Recreations Department, the launch was at the Hilltop Garden and Native Center, 2301 E. 10th St.

“The weather hurt us, but I am pleased with the turnout,” said Bill Ream, Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department community events coordinator.

The six teams included the Pumpkin Avengers, the Fahrfunflinger, the Big Pumpkin Gun, the Washington Hatchet Engineers, Chuck-n-Duck and the Tetanus Express.

Battling for the farthest distance and most accurate hit, each pumpkin launching team had the golden pumpkin trophy on their minds.

The winners of the farthest distance launched were divided into a student group and an adult group.

Jay Nuloff is a teacher and adviser of the Washington Hatchet Engineers club from Washington High School.

The launcher built by the Tetanus Express, the winner of last year’s event, was the same machine used in last year’s launch but with about 380 pounds added to it.
“It was built in a month, plus another 100 hours of tinkering,” said Brian Alano, one of the members of the group.

In the accuracy category, the launchers aimed at multiple scarecrows positioned across the field. Whichever team launched their pumpkin the closest was judged winner.

The Fahrfunflinger team, from Chesterton, Ind., travels across the Midwest
competing in pumpkin launching events.

“We went to a pumpkin launch in Morton, Ill., to see what it was about nine years ago and have been competing since,” Ric Franke-Polz said.

This year was team Fahrfunflinger’s third time in the Bloomington pumpkin launch, and they have the record of 660 feet in the distance category.

The wives of the builders were the ones who convinced Franke-Polz and Jim Murray to build their pumpkin launch machine, said Ric’s wife, Laurie Franke-Polz.

“This is what engineers do when they are bored in the summer,” Kari Murray said.

Locations around town sell ready-to-pick pumpkins during fall season

Locations around town sell ready-to-pick pumpkins during fall season

Jessica Campbell | IDS POSTED AT 11:43 PM ON Oct. 8, 2012

There’s no need to camp out in a pumpkin patch tonight to wait for The Great Pumpkin.
With fall arriving, Bloomington’s orchards and pumpkin patches are filling with pumpkins and gourds, ready for this year’s pie-making and jack-o-lantern carving.
Ready-to-pick pumpkins are being sold throughout Bloomington at grocery stores, churches and local orchards.
Whether they are for eating, carving or decorating, pumpkins for every occasion can be purchased around town. Here’s a few locations you can check out.


Bloomingfoods is selling basic orange pumpkins at all four branches.
Jerome Gust, manager of the east store, 3220 E. Third St., said the pumpkins sold at Bloomingfoods are provided by a few sources, such as Bean Blossom County and farms near LaPorte, Ind.
“We had to look for other places than our typical suppliers because of the drought,” he said. “We try to have large variety for sale, from small jack-o-lanterns, white, miniatures and regular orange pumpkins.”
Gust said the store sells, on average, 1,200 pumpkins a year with the traditional orange pumpkin being the most popular and fastest selling.
Bloomingfoods’ pumpkin prices range from $4.99 to $7.99 depending on the size.
IU sophomore Rachel Johansen said last year she went with her roommates to Bloomingfoods to buy pumpkins.
“They were cooking-specified pumpkins, but we were still able to carve them,” she said. “I want to go to a larger orchard this year.”

Oliver Winery

Oliver Winery, 8024 N. State Road 37, has the largest selection of the most varied fall-related vegetables for the holiday season.
Many types of pumpkins can be found, including regular orange pumpkins, squash, butternut squash, white pumpkins and miniature ones, called Jack-be-Littles.
According to the Oliver Winery website, any pumpkin or fall-related vegetable can be found at its vineyard, Creekbend.
Gourds, squash and home grown wine are on sale with prices ranging from 25 cents to $2.50, with large pumpkins being sold for 50 cents per pound.
Though the traditional orange pumpkin is the best for carving according to the website, the winery offers an ornamental selection for some added fall flare.
Baby-Boo white pumpkins, Autumn Wings, any-sized gourds and acorn squash can be found at the vineyard.
There are also goblin eggs, Daisy gourds and baby bears.
Oliver Winery provides a slideshow of each type of vegetable on its Facebook page.

Sherwood Oaks Christian Church

Are you in a giving mood this holiday season?
The Sherwood Oaks Christian Church, 2700 E. Rogers Road, is helping fundraise for a community in New Mexico by importing and selling their homegrown pumpkins.
From this Saturday to Oct. 31, the Sherwood Oaks Church will open its seasonal pumpkin patch for the community.
The patch is open from noon to dusk Sunday to Friday and 10 a.m. to dusk on Saturday.
The proceeds from all pumpkin sales will help the rebuilding of houses in New Mexico towns.
Scott Newland, a minister for Sherwood Church, said this is the seventh year of selling pumpkins at the Church.
“We are getting about 2,000 pumpkins arriving this Saturday,” he said. “The sale is pretty successful every year.”
The New Mexican pumpkins will be sold based on the size of the bodies.
Prices will start at 50 cents and go to $16, he said.