Crow’s Nest: Looking forward and looking back

January 1, 2019

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager.

Photo: Daniel Barringer

2018 was a year of rain and acronyms.

We had the most rain ever, it seemed, and everything is still muddy. The acronyms are EAB and EHD and SLF—Emerald Ash Borer, Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease, and Spotted Lanternfly.

This was the first year where we experienced the full lifecycle of spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula), having first found adults in the autumn of 2017. This year larva were abundant, adults were abundant and only time will tell what kind of impact this newly-introduced pest species will have. In 2018 we plan to participate in a research project on the lifecycle of this insect.

Photo: Daniel Barringer

Emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) already is having a major effect here, killing nearly all of the ash trees, tens of thousands of trees in our floodplain forests. We started removing ash trees along roadsides at the preserve before EAB arrived and are half way finished even as the trees begin to die. Woodpeckers chip away at the bark and the exit holes of the borers are visible in the trunks. We still have 100 ash trees along the roadsides to remove; we’re treating nine other ash trees to protect them from the insect, and the rest will die, creating openings in the forest for other tree species to colonize.

Photo: Daniel Barringer

Deer in this region were decimated in 2018 by epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD, genus Orbivirus), a virus spread by midges (e.g. Culicoides variipennis) that are not normally native to Pennsylvania, but blow in periodically. The extreme amount of rain created conditions where the midges which breed in mud had, well, plenty of mud.

Photo: Daniel Barringer

The lovely photos of snow, above and below, in November 2018, are a reminder that weather forecasts this year occasionally didn’t prepare us for what was coming.

Photo: Daniel Barringer

And in June 2018 heavy rains breached the earthen dam of our small farm pond (below).

Photo: Daniel Barringer

Plans are well underway to restore in 2019 a natural flowing stream through the ground now exposed and replant with native wildflowers, trees and shrubs along the length.

Photo: Daniel Barringer

So 2019 will be a busy year too with many challenges and a few unknowns. We’ll have some volunteer projects, nature clubs and summer camps, a new boardwalk on the Creek Trail to complete, and all of the usual maintenance to perform. We have a new kestrel box to install, some farm gates to build, and at least one surprise. I hope you have a fruitful and peaceful 2019!