Will Stink Bugs Meet Their Match?

“If 1 in 10 people had stink bugs in 2010, 9 in 10 people will have them in 2011.” – Michael Raupp, Entomologist, University of Maryland.

Is the answer to one invasive species, another invasive species? USDA researchers think so. The potential predators, parasitic wasps from Asia, are being raised in quarantine in a lab in Delaware and appear to be killing off 80 percent of the little stinkers. If the wasps are proven effective and selective in their embryo destruction, researchers are hopefully they will be released in 2013. Read the entire Baltimore Sun article on stink bug research updates here.

Spring March of the Stink Bugs!

These last few days of warm weather have been lovely, but for many Marylanders the warm sunshine has brought an increase in brown marmorated stink bug sightings along with it. And the more we see, the stranger the places they tend to pop up. My sister came upon one resting confidently under the shampoo cap during a morning shower. I’ve heard stories of ’em hitchhiking on vehicles for hours, crawling into beds, and surviving spin cycles – but perhaps the most heebie-jeebie inducing is mentioned in a recent baltimoresun.com post by Frank Roylance, aptly titled “they’re baaaack.” Breakfast, anyone?

Can you have your tech gifts and buy local too?

According to our fave BaltTech expert and writer, Gus G. Sentementes, quite a few hardware, software, accessories and games that may be on your list originate in Maryland so you can shop tech with a slightly smaller footprint after all. The money spent with the companies on this list will also help to support Maryland’s technology entrepreneurs and businesses. Find links to Gus’s finds below and read more about the items and “Cyber Monday” on baltimoresun.com.

  • Polk Audio is a Baltimore-based company that produces speaker systems for cars, boats and the home.

  • M-Edge, of Odenton, Md., and ZeroChroma of Baltimore, Md., make cases for the Amazon Kindle, Apple iPads, and electronic readers by Sony, Borders and Barnes & Noble including: the Latitude Jacket for Kindle and the iPad case/stand.Bethesda Softworks, based in Rockville, makes a lot of video games for PC, Xbox and Playstation, and even the iPhone. Extra fun fact: “Fallout 3” was designed by a Loyola University graduate. Firaxis Games, makers of the popular “Civilization” video games is based in Sparks, Md.

  • Hunt Valley-based Oculis Labs makes some very cool “Private Eye” software that uses a computer’s webcam to detect when someone other than the computer owner is looking at the monitor and blurs the screen when it detects an eavesdropper or if the user turns his head away. (This one gets Just Saying’s nod for being the coolest in the bunch)

  • Baltimore Audio Tours sells a CD or digital download for an MP3 player that delivers an auditory tour of the city.

  • Baltimore-based, interactive design agency Fastspot created Jumbalaya: a $1.99 word game for sale in the Apple App Store.

  • Ellicott City-based company, GiftCardRescue.com sells rescued, discounted gift cards to Cheesecake Factory, Bed Bath & Beyond, Radio Shack and more.  

Commercial Wind Turbine Developments on the Maryland Coast

Timothy B. Wheeler for The Baltimore Sun reports:

“The federal government on Monday invited bids from wind power developers to place turbines off Maryland’s coast, taking the first step toward what could be the nation’s largest offshore commercial wind project to date.

The Department of Interior identified a 277 nautical-square-mile area off the state’s 31-mile coast for possible leasing, largely accepting the recommendations of a state task force that has been studying offshore wind prospects since early this year. The turbines nearest to shore could be placed 10 nautical miles off Ocean City and 20 nautical miles off Assateague National Seashore.”

And while we’re on the subject of wind, I’d like to remind everyone to check out the incredible ideas born from the GE Ecomagination Challenge. Winners and new partners will be announced on the official site on Tuesday November 16th, 2010.

Black bear, Black bear

Photo submitted to The Baltimore Sun by10-year-old Jack Ferguson in Westminster

Apparently these little fellas are popping up all over the state of Maryland. The Baltimore Sun reports:

“…The latest sightings began Saturday in Federal Hill, in north-central Harford County. That was followed by a call from Freeland, in northern Baltimore County, and a third on Sunday from Shiloh Road outside Hampstead in northern Carroll County. On Tuesday the bear was sighted near Wheelers and Belfast roads in Sparks. And on Wednesday, the DNR took another report from Cockeysville…

…Total reports of Maryland bear sightings (outside of Garrett County) have increased from 82 in 1998 to 121 in 2009, Spiker said. The number of reports outside the four counties where bears breed has also gone up, from 6 in 1998 to 86 in 2008. As many as 72 of those 2008 reports can probably be accounted for by multiple sightings of just two bears – the one captured in Arbutus, and the New Jersey bear caught on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. But the numbers do reflect the increasing frequency of bear-human encounters in the suburbs, occasions that can delight, or imperil, all concerned. And if (or when) bears get established in Baltimore’s suburban counties, those encounters would surely increase. But it will likely be a few years before the bears become permanent neighbors. The Pennsylvania counties that adjoin Carroll, Baltimore and Harford counties have the lowest bear densities in the state. And female bears breeding in Frederick County will be slow to find dens farther east…”

Quite a Quandary…

The Baltimore Sun reported this morning that the Department of Natural Resources is all set to execute the less than 500 remaining mute swans said to be an aggressive and environmentally hazardous invasive species. From the article:

Mute swans have been a flash point in the management of Maryland wildlife, pitting bird lover against bird lover and putting animal advocates on opposite sides. Over seven years, the battle has been waged in federal court, in Congress and in Annapolis, as each side has tried to block the other. Even the task force report and the minority opinion show the deep divide. The majority concluded the birds are “aggressive” and an “environmental hazard” that should be eliminated, if possible. But Grandy and Joseph Lamp, a member of the state’s Wildlife Advisory Commission, called them a “beautiful, engaging and captivating part of the Chesapeake Bay” that should be “treasured and maintained for the enjoyment of citizens.”

Biologists say adult swans eat up to 8 pounds of underwater grasses daily, eliminating critical vegetation that filters bay water and controls erosion. Ornithologists complain that the non-native swans push native birds such as least terns, black ducks and tundra swans out of nesting areas.

Like many, I am torn on this issue. Particularly after reading just how the birds would be eradicated:

That means shooting adults or snapping their necks, and coating eggs with vegetable oil to suffocate embryos.

Definitely check out The Sun’s article and this previous post for a little history about how these swans came to be such a “menace” and the debates surrounding them.

New Farmers’ Market: Downtown Baltimore

Every Tuesday between now and October, from 10:30am to 2:30pm, local farmers will be selling fresh veggies, fruit, cheese, eggs and more along the Paca Street sidewalk in the park in front of the University of Maryland Medical Center. This is great news for the many employees at the center and for residents in the area who otherwise would have to make the trip across town on Sunday mornings before noon. Bay & Environment blogger for The Baltimore Sun, Tim Wheeler, reports:

The medical center, University of Maryland Baltimore and the local community have teamed up to bring fresh, locally grown food to the workers, patients, visitors and residents of that busy corner of downtown. Local food reduces the energy and air pollution caused by long-distance transportation, according to advocates, and the types of food offered are generally pretty healthy.

Weeds = Superfood?

I believe I have mentioned that weeds are naturally high in antioxidants due to the simple fact that they flourish without human aid, but I will admit that tossing weeds into the salad mix hasn’t been a top priority for me until now. Baltimore Sun reporter, Julie Deardorff, points to Dandelion greens as an excellent source of vitamin A, calcium, iron, folate and potassium, in this great interactive on the newspaper’s website. Talk about turning a negative into a positive, huh? Dandelions taking over your lawn? As you yank ’em, pull off those leaves!

Raising Kids & Tomatoes – by Rob Kasper

I just added this book to my recommendations list. Like so many others, it should have been there all along but I only just discovered it.

Raising Kids & Tomatoes, published back in 1998 by The Baltimore Sun, is a collection of columnist Rob Kasper’s musings about food and family. It’s delightfully sprinkled with recipes, food-lore, and all things Maryland (think crab cakes and ducks). Most stories/columns are less than three pages long so it is an easy book to explore at your leisure.

And although I am not a beer drinker, if you are, I highly recommend stopping by Rob’s blog, Kasper on Tap.