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.

Read the entire article at ScienceFriday.com »

Nature Next Door: Mothing is the new birding

Early in 2012, two naturalists in Central Jersey announced an ambitious plan: to create an annual July event called National Moth Week (NMW) to raise awareness of these little-known creatures of the night. The N.J. Meadowlands Commission and Bergen County Audubon Society jumped at the chance to hold a moth event…What started as a series of local public moth nights that Liti Haramaty (Lab Researcher, Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences in the School of Environemntal and Biological Sciences at Rutgers University) and David Moskowitz (Entomology graduate student at SEBS) began in East Brunswick in 2005 has gone international. This month, events take place in every state of the union and more than 30 nations.

Read the entire article at NorthJersey.com »

IFNH Participates in RWJF Health Forum for NJ Statewide Stakeholders

L-R: Peter Gillies, Peggy Policastro, Mary Tursi and Dan Gorenstein, senior reporter for NPR’s MarketPlace and panel moderator for the forum.

L-R: Peter Gillies, Peggy Policastro, Mary Tursi and Dan Gorenstein, senior reporter for NPR’s MarketPlace and panel moderator for the forum.

On June 20, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) hosted a new national initiative, Culture of Health Forum, at its headquarters in Princeton, NJ. This special forum for statewide stakeholders featured two panels of leaders and experts in the health field and focused on a discussion on how a culture of health in America can be achieved. [Read more...]

Beating the Bugs in the Bogs: Postdoctoral Student Studies Cranberry Resistance to Gypsy Moth

Elvira de Lange wrapping a cranberry plant with newly hatched gypsy moth larva.

Elvira de Lange wrapping a cranberry plant with newly hatched gypsy moth larva.

The gypsy moth is a destructive insect pest infesting New Jersey’s forests, destroying thousands of acres of trees. In the New Jersey Pinelands, the gypsy moth is also an occasional pest of cranberries. Gypsy moth caterpillars will readily eat the plants in outbreak years, when they are abundant in the Pinelands, like in 2007. The caterpillars prefer to feed on oaks, but when they encounter cranberry plants, their presence can have a devastating effect. Fortunately, since 2007, the caterpillars have rarely been seen in the New Jersey Pinelands. However, this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be prepared for their eventual return. Also, studying cranberry resistance against gypsy moth will teach us about the resistance of the plants against other important pests as well.

At the Rutgers Marucci Cranberry and Blueberry Research Center in Chatsworth, NJ, studies led by postdoctoral student Elvira de Lange are currently testing the insect resistance of seven varieties of cranberry, including the widely used Stevens variety and newer varieties such as Crimson Queen and Demoranville. De Lange started off wrapping the different plants in white polyester sleeves and adding a number of gypsy moth larvae that just hatched from the egg. A week later, she retrieved the larvae from the plants and weighed them, to evaluate whether or not they grew well on certain plants. Also, she scored the damage the gypsy moth evoked, as a measure for plant resistance. She is still evaluating the data, in order to know if certain cranberry varieties are more resistant than others. [Read more...]

Student Filmmaker Documents Jim Simon’s Horticultural Innovation Work in Zambia

Jeanpaul Isaacs, right,  recently went to Zambia to make a documentary about the work of James E. Simon, left. Photography: Nick Romanenko

Jeanpaul Isaacs, right, recently went to Zambia to make a documentary about the work of James E. Simon, left. Photography: Nick Romanenko

Rutgers Center for Digital Filmmaking recent graduate Jeanpaul Isaacs (SAS ’14, SC&I ’14) spent the final semester of his senior year working on a documentary on SEBS Professor of Plant Biology and Pathology Jim Simon’s work with African women farmers to develop markets for their indigenous crops in Zambia. Isaacs previous work was awarded best picture at Campus Moviefest 2013, leading him to a rare stint as a student filmmaker member of Team Oscar at this year’s Oscar award ceremony.  Simon also has been highly awarded for his work, receiving both an AIARD Special Service Award and the Scientific Excellence Award by the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development this year. Read more on Isaac’s activities at Rutgers Magazine.