Earthworm Invaders

Capital News Service
LANSING – Compost box heroes, or the root of all ecological evil? Earthworms in Great Lakes forests are not what they seem. Trilliums are smaller, algal blooms are more common and hummingbird populations are decreasing. All of these are worsened by non-native earthworms in Great Lakes soil, according to a new study that identified four key minerals that earthworms remove from soil and that native plants need to grow. The loss of calcium, magnesium, potassium and phosphate reduces the richness of the soil and limits what plants the soil can support, said the study by scientists at the U.S. Forest Service, University of Minnesota, Stroud Research Center and U.S. Geological Survey and published in the journal “Ecosystems.”
The impacts of the earthworms are visible in a variety of places, said Tara Bal, a research assistant professor at Michigan Technological University’s School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science.

Gypsy moth population plummets, study says

Capital News Service
LANSING — Eating leaves of hardwood trees, the gypsy moth is known as the most devastating insect in the United States. But a recent report about major forest insect and disease conditions by the U.S. Forest Service said the population of gypsy moths decreased dramatically in Michigan last year. According to the report in 2011, 1,047 acres of forest were affected by gypsy moths, an exotic pest from Asia, while 941,981 acres in the state were affected in 2010. Brenda Owen, executive director of the Michigan Association of Timbermen in Newberry, said a lower population contributes to a healthier forest. She also said without efforts to reduce the population, the forest product industry would also be hurt.