Gypsy moths, destroyer of forests, virtually gone in South Jersey

The gypsy moths that destroyed or severely damaged hundreds of thousands of acres of trees throughout the state for about a century have virtually disappeared in South Jersey. An aerial survey performed in June and earlier this month showed evidence of gypsy moths in only 76 acres in Camden, Burlington and Ocean counties, according to the state Department of Agriculture…Still, officials at Rutgers University’s Department of Entomology warn that the decline in gypsy moth numbers could spike in the future based on a number of variables. For instance, there could be significant regional outbreaks as the gypsy moths migrate through the state, said James Lashomb, a entomology department professor.

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Want to repel mosquitoes? There’s an APP for that: Phone software mimics the sounds of predators to repel biting females

The muggy weather is creating a "perfect storm" for mosquitoes to descend on our gardens. But the latest high-tech weapon in the battle against the bloodsuckers doesn’t come in the form or a spray or clip, instead it’s a free app on your smartphone. Anti-mosquito apps emit ultrasonic frequencies designed to frighten the mosquitoes away…The Liverpool researchers added that "male mosquitoes are actually the ones attracted by the female flight sound, and females normally have a very weak sensitivity for sound compared with the males." Wayne Crans, Associate Research Professor in Entomology at Rutgers added mosquitoes are also not known to leave areas hunted by dragonflies.

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Picture of the Week: Io Moth Caterpillar

This is the caterpillar of an Io moth, a species of silk moth that so intrigues entomologist Andrei Sourakov that he’s endured a number of the larva’s bee-like stings while studying various specimens…The Io moth also symbolizes this year’s National Moth Week, which kicked off this past Saturday and continues until July 27th (the event has actually gone international). This is “the year of the silk moth,” says co-founder Dave Moskowitz (Enotomology graduate student in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences at Rutgers University), and on the day SciFri spoke with him, he singled out the Io as his favorite moth.

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An Exaltation of Moths, Much-Maligned Kin of the Butterfly

The night was still young and a tad too breezy. But already, more than a hundred people were gathered around a series of fluttering, black-lighted sheets in the middle of the New Jersey Meadowlands, waiting for their quarry. They were looking for the nocturnal members of the order Lepidoptera, at one of dozens of events organized in the New York region as part of National Moth Week…For the organizers, the moth events are a way to dispel some of the myths about moths – that they are brown and drab, that they eat tomato plants and nibble at sweaters. "Only a very few are pests," said Elena Tartaglia, who has a Ph.D. in ecology and evolution from Rutgers University and specializes in hawk moths.

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Barnegat Bay degradation moving south

Two years after hearing a scientist’s dire warning on Barnegat Bay, New Jersey lawmakers heard how the bay’s degradation appears to be spreading south from Ocean County’s biggest suburbs. The northern end of the 42-mile-long estuary already has crippled water quality, a trend that has accelerated during the last 20 years, Rutgers University research professor Michael Kennish told a joint meeting of the Legislature’s environment committees. "The situation has not gotten better; it’s gotten worse in term of nutrients," said Kennish, who leads the university’s Barnegat Bay science efforts and is an author of a recently updated report on the bay’s conditions.

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