Kids on the Land

Vital Signs Club

The club was started.... the club wholly, partly supported by....under the direction of.... seeks to......update on winter moth project.....


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The Vital Signs club was busy monitoring Winter Moth (Operophtera brumata) last November and December. In 2012, the club members had done their best to band as many trees as they possibly could. This year, they learned from Charlene Donahue, Maine State Entomologist, and Joe Elkinton, entomologist and researcher at UMass Amherst, that banding trees was a good idea for tracking the spread of Winter Moth, but not particularly helpful in reducing its population. They did band a few trees in areas of the island where they weren’t sure if winter moth was yet present. They also worked on a project for Joe Elkinton. On a visit to Vinalhaven last summer, he had asked the club if they would assist him in getting an estimate of the winter moth population on Vinalhaven to help assess if a parasitic fly release (to control the moth population) would be feasible. They put up a pheromone trap to capture male moths. With VLT board member Chuck Gadzik’s help, they collected all the male winter moths and sent them to Joe’s lab. They also put up two special tree bands (different than the Tanglefoot tree bands you saw last year) to assess the number of females in the area. The Vital Signs crew visited these bands every few days until it got too cold, and sent the numbers to Joe. This spring they watched closely the color of winter moth eggs, as they change from pink to blue just before they hatch. They also counted the number of early istars (a stage in the life of an insect between two successive molts) on each bud and sending that information to Joe. The results showed that a release of the parasitic fly would be useful, and so it happened on May 21. Of course the club was on hand to assist with the release.