Noticing Nature on the Road to NCTC

Common evening primrose or hog weed // Photo Credit: Phil Pannill/USFWS Credit

During the onset of fall, as you drive along roadsides to reach the National Conservation Training Center (NCTC), you may spot a plant in farm fields and vacant lots that proves that one person’s weed is another’s wildflower. Common evening primrose, Oenothera biennis, (also sometimes called hog weed) is a biennial plant, living only two years, but re-seeds itself generously. The pale yellow trumpet-shaped flowers are each short-lived, but are quickly replaced, and are well-used by bees, hummingbirds and other pollinators. The seeds are eaten by birds. The second-year growth is usually tall and stalky, but can be clipped while still short to reduce height and encourage multiple flowering tips.

For more information visit:
Wildflower.org
USDA Plant Guide

Ever wonder about those huge web-like bags hanging in the trees near NCTC? You may have noticed those bunches of spider-webbing up in the tree branches in the last few weeks. This is caused by an insect called the fall webworm, Hyphantria cunea. If you were to look into one of those “nests” you would see a lot of small, light-brown to gray caterpillars with yellow spots, sparsely covered with long brown hairs. They are eating the tree leaves, getting larger and storing enough energy to make a cocoon and pupate into a hairy white moth which mates, and lays eggs. Fall webworm is a native insect that has possibly been here as long as the trees. While it can be damaging to a small tree, the effect on large, healthy trees is insignificant, especially since most trees will be starting to lose those leaves in a month or two anyway.

For more webworm information visit: Bug Guide

 -- published --  September 9, 2013
 -- photo credit --  Phil Pannill/USFWS Credit

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