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Spring has sprung! Luna moths are hatching… May 14, 2013

Posted by bsciencecenter in Science.
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This time of year, nature is in full bloom. From flowers to frogs, the natural world is busy during the spring.  The Science Center provides elementary classrooms with frog eggs, butterfly caterpillars and moth cocoons.  Students learn about life cycles and metamorphosis, while being able to watch these living things grow and change right before their eyes.

Check out this video produced by Mr. Musselman, showing the exciting life of the luna moth!

Brownies receive their bug badge! April 30, 2013

Posted by bsciencecenter in Burlington Community, Science Center.
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The Science Center often shares their love of science with the Scouts of America.  Ms. Pavlicek was recently asked to help out Brownie Troop #85006 at the Francis Wyman School.  The troop consisted of 12 second graders, who were interested in receiving their  next badge on bugs!

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Ms. Pavlicek went over the basic characteristics of insects, introduced different types of insects, and how these animals can be beneficial and/or harmful to the environment.  Ms. Pavlicek feels passionate about making students comfortable with all types of animal life, including bugs!

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She also brought 3 kinds of insects for the students to explore and handle.  Crickets, mealworms/beetles and cockroaches!

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Students also learned how some insects go through complete metamorphosis (change) and how others simply molt and grow (incomplete metamorphosis).

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It was a fun filled afternoon for all!

Is it snowing outside? No, it’s winter moths! December 6, 2012

Posted by bsciencecenter in Science.
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Is it snowing outside? No, it’s winter moths! The winter moth, an invasive insect originally from Europe, was introduced into the United States through Canada and Nova Scotia before the 1950’s. You can see these moths throughout eastern Massachusetts in huge numbers.

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The adult winter moths (Operophtera brumata) emerge from the ground in November or December, but only the male is able to fly. The female climbs to the base of a tree or building and attracts the male through the pheromone (scent) that she gives off. After mating, the female lays a cluster of approximately 150 eggs under tree bark or in tree crevices, and her life is now over. In March or April the eggs hatch into a smooth green inchworm with a narrow white-stripe running lengthwise on each side of the body. The caterpillar spins a strand of silk, which, with the help of air currents, takes it into tree canopies in a dispersal method known as “ballooning”.

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Once there, the damage to the tree begins as the caterpillars work their way into the tree buds and leaves to feed. In Massachusetts, the tree species frequently affected are maple, oak, ash, as well as fruits producers such as apple, crabapple, and blueberry. Winter moth caterpillars can also drop from trees to nearby ornamental shrubs such as roses. When feeding ends in mid-June the caterpillars migrate into the soil to pupate and emerge as moths.

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What can we do to control this moth?

No natural controls are known to be present in Massachusetts, but researchers at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst are actively collecting and rearing a parasitic fly (Cyzenis albicans) that was very effective at controlling winter moth outbreaks in eastern Canada and the Pacific Northwest. Unfortunately, effective biological control ismany years away.

Info c/o UMass

Check out these links for more winter moth information:

http://extension.umass.edu/landscape/news/warm-winter-2012-and-what-expect-winter-moth-massachusetts

http://extension.umass.edu/landscape/fact-sheets/winter-moth-overview

http://extension.umass.edu/landscape/fact-sheets/winter-moth-identification-management

http://www.mass.gov/dcr/news/winter_moth.pdf