Dreaming of Fireflies

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Invasion of the Soybean Aphids September 23, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jen @ 9:00 am

For those of you who have heard Ben or me complain about the terrible swarms of bugs that have been bugging us, here is an article from the News Gazette about the Soybean Aphid Invasion.

Bothersome soybean aphids here to stay for now

By Christine Des Garennes
Tuesday, September 22, 2009 2:25 AM CDT

First, they’re not gnats.

Second, you can try bug spray to get rid of them, but there’s plenty more to replace the ones you killed.

Third, they may be here awhile.

You know those tiny, flitting, pesky insects of late, the ones that keep flying in your eyes and nostrils while you’re riding your bike, the ones that keep landing in your drink, that have covered your deck chairs, your child’s sand toys, not to mention your car’s windshield?

Yes, those bugs.

“We are being invaded by soybean aphids,” said Curt Hill, a principal research specialist in crop sciences at the University of Illinois.

A mild summer helped play a part in the large population of soybean aphids this year.

The bugs, which began their lives on buckthorn and spent the summer sucking sap from area soybean plants, are now thinking about their progeny.

The most talked-about (or rather, cursed-about) bug of the month, soybean aphids are moving out of the fields, and they’re looking to lay some eggs.

They need to overwinter in buckthorn, an invasive shrub or small tree, to do so. A few million or so have found a big patch of it outside a greenhouse near the National Soybean Research Center on campus.

For all of you new to town, “it’s not always this bad,” Hill said.

Like other crops, soybeans were planted late this year due to the spring rains. And the summer weather was not hot and muggy. Turns out temperatures were ideal for growing populations of the little bugs.

The soybean aphid goes through several different stages, according to Hill. Once the eggs hatch on buckthorn, a few generations will remain on the shrub. Eventually they make their way to soybeans. The summer stage of the aphid is actually an asexual stage. But they can reproduce asexually. Plus, when born, the aphid actually is pregnant.

Yes, pregnant. Making more aphids is something they’re quite good at doing.

“Under ideal conditions … researchers have found aphids can double their population size in 1.2 days. Populations can really explode,” Hill said. The optimal temperature is about 80 degrees, he said.

And the aphids’ predators, the multi-colored Asian ladybeetle, haven’t kept up pace.

The aphids usually stay in the fields until the day length starts to decline, and eventually they change to another stage called gynoparae, and that’s when they start migrating away from the soybeans and go out in search of buckthorn.

And that is the current stage of most of the aphids that are finding their way into our clothes, our hair and our cold beverages.

You can expect to keep swatting at them, too.

“They could be around for quite a while; there’s still a lot of green soybeans out there,” Hill said.

Until there are some hard frosts or the soybean crop is completely harvested, they’ll still be flitting around, he reported.


Life in the Land Unplugged September 22, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jen @ 6:49 pm

Ben and I were unsure whether we wanted to pay the monopoly of Comcast a large sum of money for cable and internet, especially since, despite the fact that we are in the 21st century, cable and internet are in actuality a luxury, and we figured we’d at least wait until we have a source of income before we ordered it. We also figured there would be other benefits to not having the distraction of TV and internet, like getting work done sooner, spending time together, reading, and not pouring junk into our minds just because we haven’t thought of a better way to spend our time. We did have cable for a couple weeks since they had not yet shut off the previous renter’s service. We thought that when it was turned off, running the TV through the VCR would allow us to get the basic channels like a converter box, since the broadcast has switched to digital. Once the cable was finally shut off, we realized we were apparently mistaken, and we currently get no channels, except a very, very fuzzy home shopping channel. I might have caved and ordered cable, but we have been doing a Financial Peace University course to learn how to manage and invest money wisely, which is prompting me to save as much as possible. So that means cutting out some of the little luxuries. Therefore, we are currently and indefinitely “unplugged”!

When I’m not having one of those moments where I long for the “interaction” with the outside world the TV brings or wondering if we are crazy, it has actually been pretty fun. We’ve been spending our free time reading Clive Cussler, playing Mexican Train Dominos, and renting old movies and shows from the library. Here’s what we’ve seen so far:

  • Legends of the Fall
  • Tuck Everlasting
  • When Harry Met Sally
  • Bride Wars
  • The Cosby Show, season one

Next in line are Grey’s Anatomy season one and Shakespeare in Love. Maybe we’ll even go really classic and get Casablanca or Citizen Kane or something.

I think it will be kind of a fun adventure, for a little while at least, and I’m sure it will be one of those times we look back on fondly when we’re older. And maybe it will provide you a little amusement or some movie rental ideas! I’ll keep you posted as our rentals progress…


It’s Quotes Time Again September 15, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jen @ 12:54 pm

New notable quotables, courtesy of the family (with apologies for the morbidity)…

Words Mom used while telling me about the Harry Potter exhibit:
“Professor Snipe”

Jen: I think you need to brush up on your Harry Potter trivia.
Mom: It’s late, I’m tired!
Jen: It’s only 5:00.
Mom: Well, it’s hard to talk with a tongue ring.


“Did you hear that Paula died? She had cancer. And she didn’t tell anybody! She didn’t tell anybody she died!” -Nancy (mother-in-law), late at night.


“A squirrel got runned over by a truck. And it got dead.” – Olivia (niece, age 2), with the most forlorn look on her face, to everyone who walked in the house.


Ben: I bet coconut oil is expensive.
Jen: Not if you’re a coconut.


My 25th Birthday September 5, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jen @ 1:03 pm
Birthday Breakfast- French Toast with Love

Birthday Breakfast- French Toast with Love

Lovely cards from lovely friends

Lovely cards from lovely friends

Roses from Ben

Roses from Ben

Flowers from parents

Flowers from parents

My mom's old pink Schwinn from the 1960's

My mom's old pink Schwinn from the 1960's

Pad Thai at Flat Top. Yum!!!

Pad Thai at Flat Top. Yum!!!

@ Flat Top

@ Flat Top