On and Off The Mountain/Stephanie Grubert

The lush green leaves furled out about 3 weeks ago and then the gypsy moth caterpillars arrived. Munch, munch, munch. I like to sit out on my front porch and in the week since Memorial Day the munching and leaf destruction escalated every day. I swept up the caterpillar droppings and shredded leaves on Sunday afternoon before sitting down to write this column. I am wondering how much longer we will have for the tree canopy destruction.

One of the days I walked up into the Gamelands last week the caterpillars were all over the road and hanging on to me as I traversed the trail. I know it won’t last and that gypsy moth infestations are cyclical, but they are unwelcome just the same. According to information posted by Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Luzerne County was listed as one of the targeted areas for helicopter aerial spraying by state woodland managers. Last year, cold, wet weather in the spring proved ideal for the naturally occurring fungus that is deadly to gypsy moths. Apparently this year’s dry spring has been ideal for the infestation to take hold.

A 26,433 acre gypsy moth PA suppression program in 38 treatment blocks was proposed for 2015 in six northeastern counties including Luzerne principally on state managed parks, forests, and Gamelands. Gamelands 207 in Rice Township and Black Diamond Trail between Wright Township and White Haven were not sprayed according to Terry Brady, press spokesman for DCNR. Only one private residential block in Carbon County was on the list and the request was made through the county coordinator.

“Nearly all of the areas sprayed in May 2015 were concentrated on State Forest and State Parkland. None of the blocks were on Gamelands,” states Brady.

Oak stands are especially vulnerable to gypsy moth infestation and mortality. The loss of habitat, timber and tree growth are considerable, when gypsy moth populations are allowed to go untreated.

Brady noted that complaints to his office this year from Luzerne county residents are very strong. “This was an excellent year for spraying as we had many sunny warm days, but the naturally occurring fungus in 2014 last year took care of the gypsy moth infestation. We spray trees to protect them for the next year. Private areas are coordinated by request. Individuals should contact their county coordinator for spray consideration next year,” summed up Brady.

Garden Chores On a happier note, I continued planting seeds, surrounded my tomato plants with sturdy cages, and Charlie and I put up the deer fence to cut down on deer visitations last weekend. I am seeing a lot of deer leaping through the forest on my daily walks and I have found hoof prints in the soft garden soil. There’s nothing worse than having wildlife feast on your carefully designed plan. There appears to be a lot of browse for the deer, but they do like to come by and munch on tender vegetable plants like beans and lettuce so a fence is a good precaution. Our fence is sturdy netting attached to poles. In the winter the netting protects the rhododendron shrubs.

We did finally get rain showers in the past week, which was a welcome gift for the gardens that are struggling to push forth seedlings. I get so many alerts on my phone about storms that the service is practically useless. If you followed every one you would never go outside for a walk. You can be enjoying sunshine and hear thunder in the distance. The thunderstorm in Fairview may not materialize in Rice or Dorrance. So far the showers have come and gone. We have not yet had a soaking rain. Through Sunday we only had .59 of an inch of rain for the week. I’m hoping for more this week.

Pink & Blue Golf

I have been working on the Fifth Annual Blue Ridge Trail Golf Club’s Pink & Blue Golf Tournament for the past month. My contribution is selling hole sponsorships and soliciting prizes for our raffle. The Blue Ridge Pink & Blue is cancer awareness and financial support for the Prescription Assistance Fund of the Medical Oncology Associates of Kingston, PA. We need foursomes to come out and enjoy a fantastic day of golf on June 20, 2015. Call me or Tony Barletta, Blue Ridge Golf Course Manager if you want to donate or play golf.

Summertime

Meteorological Summer began on June 1 even though the first official day of summer is still 18 days off. The days are getting longer and longer. Those birds are chirping earlier and earlier and first light is about 30 minutes before the 5:32 a. m. sunrise today. That gives farmers a long day in the field and the plants have many hours of sunlight to grow. Sunset is 8:31 p. m. and on a clear night we can see for another half hour past that. There is an additional minute of daylight every day until the summer solstice on Sunday June 21, 2015. We can expect our first local harvests about July 4, which is only a month away.

We’ve had some fair weather weekends and I always hope for dry weather for the Tuesday Night Blue Ridge Ladies Golf League. Most of us don’t play in rain and if thunder and lightening are present nobody does.

Graduation and School Term Ending

Another school year is coming to a close. Crestwood High School graduation is next week Friday evening June 12 at the Mohegan Sun Arena. Years ago Crestwood had graduations in their football stadium and occasionally the event had to be moved inside because of inclement weather. The high school gym was just not big enough to accommodate the graduates and their families and friends and the crowded hot conditions. The arena holds events rain or shine.

The Mountaintop Eagle congratulates each graduate and their proud families on their milestone Our editorial staff works closely with the Crestwood’s senior class advisor, yearbook advisor, and the guidance office to gather the information about the class and their achievements and their special plans for our annual graduation edition, which will be published June 17. We have been sending our local graduates off in a blaze of glory for the past 30 years.

The last day of school will also be Wednesday June 17. There is a different cadence in Mountaintop when schools are not in session. We have less traffic and a slower pace. I enjoy summer. It is time to kick back and smell the roses, enjoy the fruits of the garden, and walk another mile or two.