links i liked: pollinator and fish drones, stinkbugs, physocarpus and more

THANKS ANYWAY, drone engineers, but I don’t really want to live to see the day when drones are used for pollination because we let all the bees die. I know, I know; progress and innovation and all, but… Pollinator drones are not brand-new (the one in the video above, from “Science” magazine in February 2017), but apparently Walmart has applied for a patent on just such a device—perhaps a move to offset Amazon’s increasing entry into the fresh-food market, some industry analysts say.

a robotic fish to monitor fragile oceans?

I WAS FAR more mesmerized by the tale of the “soft robotic fish” (“Sofie” for short) that MIT is pioneering to perhaps become monitors of undersea health—of fragile coral reefs, for instance. Meet Sofie and learn about her maiden swim off Fiji.

say yes to a whole-food diet (skip the calorie-counting)

I’M NOT a BELIEVER in fad diets or calorie-counting. Since adulthood, I have been all about eating when hungry, and specifically about eating whole foods in a balanced manner. Emphasis on the whole; forget the processed. A paper published last month in the Journal of the American Medical Association, based on a large study by Stanford Prevention Research Center, indicates that quality, not quantity, of what we eat is the governing factor in achieving healthy weight. Read about it in “The New York Times,” as I did. Now go make a pot of brown rice and cook up some dry beans and roast some of the last of the winter vegetables, won’t you?

stinkbug takeover?

STINKBUGS, anyone? Many of you sent me this horrifying tale from “The New Yorker” on the creature that seems to unhinge us all (but also seems to love to live with us, at least in winter). If that is not stinky news enough, there is its voracious appetite; the brown marmorated stinkbug we are increasingly besieged by is “highly polyphagous,” as in: eats everything from broccoli to okra, magnolias to maples. What, if anything, will stop it?

the journey of eastern physocarpus

I’VE GROWN PHYSOCARPUS—or ninebark—for more than 20 years, long before the various colorful cultivars (like ‘Coppertina’ and ‘Diabolo,’ above, and ‘Summer Wine’) became “it” plants in recent years. I brought a rooted cutting home from Western Hills Nursery in California decades ago. When I read a recent blog post by “The Plant Hunter” Tim Woods (of the Spring Meadow wholesale shrub operation and the Proven Winners Brand) about the “the journey of Eastern Physocarpus,” I was reminded that my first ninebark, a baby ‘Dart’s Gold,’ had made the journey backwards. It is an Eastern native plant that I (an Easterner) had found on the West Coast and repatriated. Read the story of ninebark’s journey.

another invasive: spotted lanternfly alert

THE LATEST INVASIVE we citizen scientists are being asked to report if sighted: an Asian sap-sucking plant hopper called the spotted lantern fly—which is apparently gaining a foothold in several Eastern states. Fruit growers, in particular, are alarmed, because although the insect’s preferred host is tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus), it’s happy to suck the life out of grape vines, apple and peach trees and the list goes on. More, from “Entomology Today.”


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