Definitive New Book on Saproxylic Insects

Bark-feeders, fungus-feeders, wood-borers, and wood-nesting bees – all are saproxylic insects, which means they depend on dead or dying wood. The insects that prey on or parasitize them are also considered saproxylic. “About a third of all forest insect species are saproxylic,” says USDA Forest Service research entomologist Michael Ulyshen. Ulyshen recently edited a definitive…  More 

SRS Scientist Legacy: Continued Insect Research

A USDA Forest Service research scientist extended his 50 year legacy by donating more than a million dollars to each of his alma maters. John Moser’s research focused on understanding the biology of town ants (Atta texana), phoretic mites, and other associates of ants and pine bark beetles. Moser received his undergraduate and graduate degrees…  More 

A Hemlock in the Town Square

This summer, I joined USDA Forest Service scientist Andy Whittier for a day of field work as a part of my internship with SRS Public Affairs and Science Communications. We traveled to Green Mountain, NC to check up on an experiment led by research entomologist Bud Mayfield on hemlock trees. Throughout the eastern U.S., the invasive…  More 

The State of the Nation’s Forests

Forests are constantly changing with weather, disturbance, and conversion to other land uses, but how do we know if year-to-year changes are just a one-off or part of a larger shift? Annual summaries of forest health are key to our understanding, say the editors and authors that produced Forest Health Monitoring: National Status, Trends, and…  More 

Very Crafty Caterpillars

Butterflies are the charismatic megafauna of the insect world. Who doesn’t admire the stripes on an Eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus), the eye spots on the Polyphemus moth (Antheraea polyphemus), or the amazing journey of the Monarch (Danaus plexippus), flying from Canada to Mexico to return to a place only known to its great-grandparents? Their…  More 

Termites and Dead Wood in Pine Plantations

A handful of the world’s 3,100 known termite species damage homes. In forests, however, termites are valuable. “Termites recycle dead wood,” says U.S. Forest Service research entomologist Michael Ulyshen. Termites consume as much as 20 percent of the dead wood in forests, as Ulyshen showed in 2014. “Dead wood exists at the interface between below…  More 

How Cold Is Too Cold for Redbay Ambrosia Beetles?

Nonnative redbay ambrosia beetles and the fungus they carry have killed hundreds of millions of trees in the Southeast since first detected in 2002. Currently, only cold temperatures limit the beetles’ establishment and spread in the eastern United States. A study led by Mississippi State University involving U.S. Forest Service researchers determined the coldest temperatures…  More 

The Thorny Economics of Preventing Exotic Species Introductions

What if we lose tree species we know, love, and need? It has happened before. “Look at what happened to the American chestnut,” says U.S. Forest Service research forester Thomas Holmes. “Look at what’s happening right now to hemlock, redbay, and ash trees.” All three species, as well as many more, are threatened by non-native…  More 

SRS Shares Science at BugFest

On September 17, more than 35,000 insect enthusiasts gathered at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh, NC. U.S. Forest Service employees were among them. As in years past, the Southern Research Station had a table at BugFest. Hundreds of children and adults stopped by to learn about SRS research and to see…  More 

SRS Researcher Receives Grant to Study White-Nose Syndrome

White-nose syndrome (WNS) has killed more than six million bats over the past decade. WNS is caused by the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd). Studies show that bats eat enough insect pests to save the U.S. corn industry more than $1 billion a year in crop damage and pesticide costs, and more than $3 billion per…  More