Meet the Spongy Moth, Michigan Clean Water Corps, State of the Great Lakes

For Friday, March 4, 2022

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1 – The gypsy moth is now the spongy moth. 

The Entomological Society of America announced the new name this week. Officials say the old name was derogatory and changing the name is part of the society’s Better Common Names Project. 

Credit: Lymantria dispar adult by Gyorgy Csoka, Hungary Forest Research Institute, Bugwood.org; Lymantria dispar larva by Karla Salp, Washington State Department of Agriculture, Bugwood.org

The moth is most well-known for eating lots of leaves during its caterpillar stage. A population explosion last year caused leaf loss in oaks and other trees, the state Department of Natural notes. 

The name spongy moth is derived from the common name used in France and French-speaking Canada. It refers to the moth’s egg mass, which has the color and texture of a sea sponge.

When an invasive species carries the name of a nation or culture, it’s easy to unintentionally associate that culture with the pest’s harmful effects, a spokesperson for the DNR says. The agency anticipates there will be other common name changes for invasive species in the future.

2 – The Michigan Clean Water Corps is accepting enrollments for the 2022 Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program season. 

The Water Corps is a network of volunteer monitoring programs that collect and share surface water quality data statewide.

Program volunteers monitor water quality, invasive species and habitat conditions in Michigan lakes. The information they collect is added to a public database that dates back to 1974.

Online training for the 2022 season will take place on May 10.

There is no charge to participate in training for the Michigan Clean Water Corps, although online registration is required.

3 – The State of the Great Lakes is … busy, officials say. 

A 2021 State of the Great Lakes report out this week highlights clean water investments, algal blooms and fisheries. 

A snippet from the cover of the report. Credit: Michigan EGLE

More specifically, the report looks at the current state of knowledge on harmful algal blooms in the Great Lakes, efforts to restore native whitefish, new tools to better understand groundwater resources and emphasizes the connectivity of all water resources.

The report notes that harmful algal blooms of cyanobacteria in the Great Lakes are a growing threat to human and ecological health. 

Scientists say climate change and more frequent, extreme weather events in the region may lead to more intense and widespread harmful blooms in the future. Then again, warmer winters also could produce less snow and reduce nutrients that are carried down by rivers during the spring snowmelt.

– Mr. Great Lakes is heard Friday mornings in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Public Radio 90.1 FM (listen live). Follow @jeffkart on Twitter #MrGreatLakes

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