Teaching here at the CVEEC definitely requires one to have a fair amount of natural history knowledge. Personally, I’ve learned volumes about the biodiversity of Northeast Ohio in the three years I’ve worked at the center; I’m sure my coworkers would say the same. What amazes me more though is the depth of knowledge I have yet to learn. The sheer number of insect species on this plant could keep you glued to your field guides for years.
I was therefore humbled to meet Judy Semroc, from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, when she came out for a nature walk with the intern staff. While she claims to not know every living species in the area, she sure convinced me she does. Judy has such a wealth of knowledge about the natural history of Northeast Ohio. It was a pleasure to spend the evening learning tidbits of information on everything from trees to fungus, to dragonflies, to moths.
One moth in particular came as a surprise to everyone. It is pictured below, and it turns out that this was the first ever sighting of this moth in Summit County!
The Sparganothis Fruitworm Moth, more commonly known as the False Yellowheaded Fireworm is a member of the “leafroller” family Tortriciade. It feeds on Cranberry, Southern Highbush Blueberry, Yellow Loostrife, Goldenrod, and Aster (Mahr, 2005).
Although this was the first documented sighting in Summit County, Sparganothis is a huge pest to cranberry farmers on the East Coast and in Wisconsin (Soto, 2008). The caterpillars of this fruitworm moth go though two generations in a single summer, causing a severe amount of economic damage to the cranberry crop (Mahr, 2005). There are a number of pest control methods currently being tested, but nothing seems to be absolute.
However, since we do not have a plethora of cranberries here in Northeast Ohio, our sighting was definitely joyous, not devastating. We can all now add Sparganothis to our own natural history knowledge!
For more information on Sparganothis, check out these great resources:
Mahr, D., 2005. Sparganothis Fruitworm. University of Wisconsin, Cranberry Crop Management Software. http://www.bccranberries.com/pdfs/researchreports/SparganothisReport2008.pdf
Soto, M., 2008. Assessing distribution, lifecycle, damage, and potential plant hosts of Sparganothis Fruitworm in BC cranberry bogs. http://longbeach.wsu.edu/cranberries/documents/sparganothisfruitworm.pdf