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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Thursday, January 9, 2014

While the Emerald Ash Borer and the Hemlock Wooly Adelgid might get knocked back by as much as 80% during the recent week of "old school" below zero termperatures last seen in the mid 1990's in the Midwest and Northeast, the Deer Tic that causes Lyme Disease will avoid devastation by the cold by overwintering in leaf litter.............. While dormant during extreme cold, Deer Tics tend not to go dead...............And as the temperatures warm back up into the mid 30's to 50's, those tics will look for a blood meal, whether that be from you or another animal that wanders into their path...........A bit discouraging but I will take the cold where it is supposed to be cold and ignore the hype and "buyer beware" hysterics that the tv weathermen throw at us daily................The cold,,,,,,,,,,,,the hot,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,the wet and the dry are part of nature and it saddens me that we are upsetting the historical cycles of these different weather patterns through our CO2 emissions

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Celebrating Deep Freeze,

 Insect Experts See a 

Chance to Kill Off

 Invasive Species

Entomologists have welcomed the below-zero temperatures as a good way to rid the region of some damaging pests.
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Deep Freeze Has Silver Linings for Natural World

From a field station in northern Wisconsin, where the previous night's low was a numbing 29 degrees below zero, climate scientist John Lenters studied computer images of ice floes on Lake Superior with delight.
It may be hard to think of this week's deep freeze as anything but miserable, but to scientists like Lenters there are silver linings: The extreme cold may help raise low water in the Great Lakes, protect shorelines and wetlands from erosion, kill insect pests and slow the migration of invasive species.
"All around, it's a positive thing," Lenters, a specialist in the climate of lakes and watersheds, said Wednesday.
Ice cover on the Great Lakes has been shrinking for decades, but this year more than 60 percent of the surface is expected to freeze over at some point — an occurrence that could help the lakes rebound from a prolonged slump in water levels.

gypsy moth catapillar

Even agriculture can benefit. Although cold weather is generally no friend to crops, some of southern Florida's citrus fruits can use a perfectly timed cool-down, which they were getting as midweek temperatures hovered around freezing.
"A good cold snap lowers the acidity in oranges and increases sugar content, sweetens the fruit," said Frankie Hall, policy director for the Florida Farm Bureau Federation. "It's almost been a blessing."
Scientists noted that subzero temperatures and pounding snowfalls like those that gripped much of the nation for several days are not unheard-of in the Midwest and Northeast and used to happen more frequently.
For all the misery it inflicted, the polar vortex that created the painfully frigid conditions apparently broke no all-time records in any major U.S. cities, according to Jeff Masters, meteorology director of Weather Underground.
"I'm just happy to see that we have a normal winter for once," said Lenters, who works for Limnotech, an environmental consulting firm in Ann Arbor.

Hemlock Wooly Adelgid

As the climate has warmed, the absence of bitter cold has actually been damaging.
The emerald ash borer, an insect native to Asia, arrived in the U.S. around 2002 and has killed about 50 million ash trees in the Upper Midwest. But some locales this winter may have gotten cold enough to kill at least some larvae, said Robert Venette, a U.S. Forest Service research biologist in St. Paul, Minn.
A reading of minus 20 will usually produce a 50 percent mortality rate, and "the numbers go up quickly as it gets colder than that," Venette said.
While the freeze won't wipe out the ash borer, it will give communities a chance to develop plans for limiting the bug's spread, he said.
Other pests that originated in warmer places could be affected as well, including the gypsy moth, the hemlock woolly adelgid and the European beetle that carries Dutch elm disease, said Lee Frelich, director of the University of Minnesota Center for Forest Ecology. Native insects have evolved to cope with deep freezes.

European Beetle

Extreme cold also reins in invasive nuisance plants such as kudzu, which has ravaged the Southeast but has yet to find its way north, said Luke Nave, a University of Michigan assistant research scientist.
"As long as these cold snaps continue to occur, they will help reinforce the current range limits for certain plants," Nave said.
Water levels have been below normal in most of the Great Lakes since the late 1990s because of high evaporation and occasional lack of rain and snow. A year ago, Lakes Michigan and Huron hit their lowest points on record. Cargo ships were forced to carry lighter loads to avoid running aground in shallow channels. Marinas lost business and wetlands dried up.
But levels rose sharply in 2013, thanks to heavy snow and rain. Extensive ice cover this winter could help the lakes continue their recovery. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor predicts ice will cover 57 to 62 percent of the surface waters.
One of the lab's climatologists, Jia Wang, previously reported that the lakes' ice cover has declined 71 percent over the past 40 years. He said this year's showing may be a short-lived exception to an ongoing trend.
But this year's bone-chilling conditions could keep water temperatures low well into the summer, delaying the seasonal warming that triggers heavy evaporation, Lenters said.
The deep freeze also has piled up ice along Great Lakes shorelines, providing a buffer that will prevent heavy waves from eroding soil and disturbing wetlands.
Sections of the lakes that freeze solidly create new pathways for wandering wildlife. That could help gray wolves, which have spread across Michigan's Upper Peninsula, find new territory in the Lower Peninsula, where the occasional straggler has turned up but no established packs are known to exist.
"You can decide for yourself whether that's a good thing," said Philip Myers, curator of mammals at the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology. "I think it is."
Associated Press writers Steve Karnowski in Minneapolis and Seth Borenstein in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.

Winter Warning! Beware of Deer Ticks

Outdoor enthusiasts beware! Whether you are walking your dog, playing winter golf, enjoying cross country skiing, hunting, or just going out to the woodpile to get wood for your fireplace, you need to know that deer ticks are lurking out there, just waiting for you to make an appearance. Unfortunately for all of us, deer ticks do not disappear during the winter months, and can be quite active all year round.

During the spring, summer and early fall months, the species of ticks you might encounter in different parts of the country can include the deer tick, American dog tick, Lone Star tick, Gulf Coast tick, and the Rocky Mountain Wood tick. And infectious diseases this all-star cast of ticks can transmit to people include Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, bartonellosis, ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, and Colorado tick fever.

deer tic magnified

Fortunately, once we enter the latter part of the fall season, most of these infected ticks disappear, with the notable exception of the deer tick. The reason for this has to do with a phase these ticks go through called diapause. As the average daytime temperatures begin to drop and the days get shorter, these ticks slow down their metabolism and stop looking for a host to feed on. Simply put, they wait out the cold winter months in the refuge of the leaf litter or some similarly protected microenvironment, and generally do not become active again until the following spring.

Regrettably for us, deer ticks do not go into this resting diapause state. Throughout the winter months, the adult female deer tick (about the size of a sesame seed) is looking for a host to get the blood meal she will need to lay her eggs in the spring before she dies. The adult male deer tick generally does not feed on a host, but is looking only to mate with his female counterpart.
The one bit of good news in this bad news scenario is that deer ticks, which are cold blooded invertebrates, will not actively look for a host to feed on if the temperature is below 32 degrees and the ground is frozen or covered with snow. However, given the number of increasingly warm winter days we are experiencing, more and more deer ticks will be looking for a host all winter long. This spells big trouble for anyone who ventures outside during the winter months – which is pretty much each and every one of us.

Deer ticks are waiting for you anywhere there is leaf litter, grass, brush and woodlands, and around your homes where they can sense the carbon dioxide in your breath, the heat of your body, and the vibrations of your steps as you walk. And once you make contact with them, they grab onto you in an instant and start climbing up your clothing until they find exposed skin into which they can insert their mouthparts for a blood meal. There they will stay attached for several days, most oftentimes on unseen areas of the body including the back of your head, hair, armpit, groin, back of the knees, navel, and your back.

Do not make the mistake of thinking you are safe from having to worry about ticks and the tick-borne diseases they carry in the colder winter months. Always be aware of your environment and maintain your guard against ticks when you enjoy outdoor activities. Carefully check yourselves, your children and your pets for ticks after coming in from outside, use insect repellents on your clothing and skin whenever possible, and protect your pets with topical sprays and spot-on products.

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