Merrymeeting Bay is internationally recognized for its unique tidal freshwater ecosystem and is surrounded by a diversity of habitats including a variety of forest types. Critical to forest health and sometimes presenting forest threats are bugs! To help you learn more about these forest/insect interactions, Friends of Merrymeeting Bay (FOMB) is pleased to host amateur naturalist Cathy Reynolds who will lead an afternoon Forest Insect Walk in Topsham on Sunday, July 17 from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.
When naming the most important organisms in forests, insects are often forgotten. They do however play a central role in plant reproduction, soil fertility, sustained forest health and diversity. If one compares the importance of various groups of organisms from the point of view of biomass or diversity of species, then the dominance of trees in relation to biomass is clear but on the other hand the dominance of insects (and fungi) is also clear in terms of the biodiversity. Insects act as pollinators and seed spreaders. They convert necessary nutrients, initiate and aid in wood and forest floor decomposition and in many ways are responsible for the health of forests.
Non-native invasive insects however act through piercing-sucking, defoliating, wood boring, and disease-spreading. According to the Maine Forest Service “an almost invisible war takes place each year between Maine’s forest and insects and diseases. Occasionally, insects or disease gets the upper hand and either forests or people are affected to the point where action must take place.” Native pests, while at times expensive to deal with, don’t eliminate their host species while exotic insect pests will eliminate native vegetation. Increasing world trade intensifies the opportunity for invasive pests to become established in North America.
Leading this walk will be amateur naturalist and entomologist Cathy Reynolds who has a special interest in pollinators and has especially studied invasive forest insects. Reynolds is a local bee keeper, co-staffs the Bowdoinham Recycling Barn and coordinates the livestock area at the popular Common Ground Fair.
This walk will be on easy terrain in Topsham’s Baxter Forest. Participants should wear sturdy shoes offering protection from mud and water and be cognizant of ticks. The walk will occur rain or shine. For directions and to pre-register, please contact Ed Friedman at 666-3372.
The FOMB Summer Outside! Series is the warm weather counterpart to FOMB’s popular Winter Speaker Series. Events are usually free and are open to the public. Pre-registration is required. FOMB’s next outing will be a Mushroom Walk in Dresden led by mycologist Michaelene Mulvey on August 18th at 6:00 p.m. Pre-register with Ed Friedman at 666-3372 for this outing.
To receive more information about FOMB’s programs call Kathleen McGee, Coordinator at 666-3598. The full Summer Outside! series is on the web at: www.friendsofmerrymeetingbay.org.