The black flies of the Simuliidea emerged this week and congregate in the woods, especially areas with low wind. They will be a nuisance for a few weeks. And ticks are occasional. Mosquitos will be here soon. I thought I would share a few tips to deal with pests.
The bug net worked very well today. I forgot I had it on and could do all I wanted in the woods. The little pouch it comes in I hang from a carabiner off my pack or belt loop. The insect shield means it was dipped in permethrin pesticide at the factory, but I am not sure that was needed.
Permethin on the left by Sawyer is a pesticide you spray on clothing to ward off ticks and chiggers. On the right is Picaridin, which is what you put on your skin for mosquitos and such. Picaridin is nice in that it does not stink like DEET, nor does it melt or discolor plastic items like sunglasses and clothing. It is a lotion you rub on your skin. It works well.
Permethrin. I lay out my clothes to treat and wear a glove while spraying. You don’t want the solvent on your skin. You do a heavy spray on the clothes and let them dry for several hours and then they can be worn safely. This will repel ticks and chiggers and lasts for many washings. I spray mine maybe twice a season. I lay items like socks on top of treated items and spray them to save this expensive chemical. I spray my boots and hat too.
You can also send clothing items to a company and they will dip them in a vat of permethrin and this apparently works well.
On the right is a tick & chigger gator. It has permethrin on it too. I rarely wear these as we don’t have many ticks or chiggers at Nachusa. But Mike Saxton at Missouri Botanic Garden says they work well.
There is no great way to carry long hand tools on a UTV. Of late, volunteer Paul Mellen came up with this design and it works pretty good. This is 2″ white pvc pipe with the plastic clamps. (Maybe we should have tried 1.5 inch pvc. 1.25 inch is too small.) We bolted a board on the roof and the used screws as long as feasible, with washers on them, to affix the clamp to the wood.
On each end of the pvc Paul put two layers of used innertube with X slits cut in them. So this is four circles of rubber. The hard part was getting the hose clamps around the two layers of rubber.
Now the tools are easily slid in from the front and the friction of the rubber holds them in. I suppose if you stomp hard on the brakes you might have a tool slide forward, but this has not happened yet. And low hanging tree limbs can do havoc to anything on the roof.
The site is IL DNR’s Franklin Creek State Natural Area.
The floodplain north of the creek, next to the oak woods was cleared of common “weedy” trees (mostly box elder, and some cherry, elm and honey locust). The area was then planted with a mix of over 100 different wildflowers and grasses. Oaks will establish in this open area. This will create a diverse habitat for all kinds of wildlife and support the rare oak woodland next to it. The oak woodland needs more sunlight, increased air movement, and occasional prescribed fire.
A welcome and overview at the Windom Community Center or the Windom DNR office for a couple hours, then to visit the most southwesterly of sites (the furthest is about 40 minutes from Windom), return to Windom for dinner and a social event afterward. Meet the next morning at the DNR headquarters and then to sites east and north of Windom (farthest site is about 30-40 minutes). Possible addendum tour the morning of the 24.
by Mike Saxton, Shaw Nature Reserve, Missouri Botanic Garden
Seed collection is a big part of the restoration strategy at Shaw Nature Reserve. Last year we brought in around 750lbs of milled seed from 278 species with a crew of five restoration technicians and a robust volunteer corps. Most of our seed goes to overseeding areas where we have cut/treated/stack/burned honeysuckle and privet and into low diversity, older prairie plantings.
We had a 25-year-old MacKissic – Might Mac hammer mill that we had been using for the last few years. It’s dusty (no dust collection system), loud (finicky gas powered motor), vibrates/walks all over the place, and has a bottom drop where the seed just falls to the floor for us to sweep up. It works well enough but for the amount of seed we collect and the time/energy we put into our seed program, we needed an upgrade.
With grant support from the Robert J. Jr., Trulaske Family Foundation, we secured funding for a new hammer mill and dust collection system.
After speaking with friend and colleagues in the conservation world, (see GRN Nachusa hammer mill blog), I had hoped to purchase a C.S. Bell mill but they went out of business during the pandemic. After an exhaustive internet search, I landed on the #5 Meadow Mills hammer mill. 10 horse motor, single phase, 220V, professional grade, made in USA. We hooked it up to a Baileigh – DC2100C as a dust/seed collection system. We do not vent the exhaust outside but are using the massive built in air filter.
Fabrications that we made:
Welded heavy duty castors to the metal frame
Installed an HVAC ductwork elbow and 4in tubing to connect two units
We utilized a stainless steel sink as a nice seed table.
We need to fab up fins to make the gullet deeper.
All in all, we are very happy with this set up. It is a powerful mill and the dust collection system is heavy duty. We have kept the huge air filter on the Baileigh but might someday vent the dust outside the building. Luckily, we have an in-house electrician who was able to do the 220V wiring for us. We have found that we can fit a paper barrel into the dust collection bin and deposit seed directly into the barrel. The addition of the hammer mill to our restoration program has resulted in greater capacity and ease of operation.
On the left is the Hill Site owned and managed by the Middle Rock Conservation Partners. On the right is how the left used to look before a brush mower did a lot of work, followed up by seeding prairie seeds, and basal bark application to re-sprouts, and one fire.
Above photo is from a few years back showing a closed canopy oak woodland. In amongst the oak and hickory was a lot of invasive brush and weedy trees.
1939 aerial photo above of the same site. Likely a grazed oak savanna at that time.
Above are random points assigned to the site where we took quadrat data of the vegetation and photos.
Random points 39: We took one photo from each points looking north. Here the excessive weedy brush is evident. This was a place you walked bent over with safety glasses on.
Same point 10 months later, after a lot of brush mowing and a spring fire.
Same point 3 years later and in November. I used a bit of of a pano photo which I found allowed the trees to be in the photo. Because these random points are found later with a phone GPS there is 10 to 15 feet of error in finding the exact same point. So the pano “captures” the big oaks. I could have a fence post marking the exact point, or a hidden rebar rod, but those are hard to find and maintain.
We also collect a photo and a count of species and their percent cover. Here under a canopy of brush we have the ground mostly exposed with bare soil and a few weedy plants.
Ten months later there a few grasses seen, a honeysuckle re-sprout.
Three years later in November and oak leaves dominate the frame. We will resample the vegetation in a few more years. For now we just have these photos.
The work continues in other parts of this site, and other partner sites, with the red brush mower and the MRCP service truck.
Back in 2014 the Kleiman family decided to test if basal bark herbicide killed invasive bush honeysuckle. Anecdotal comments in articles said it did not work well. I was seeing good control. My daughter Leah was 14 at the time. My wife, Susan, and I coaxed her to have fun in the woods with us to set up a controlled study. We mapped out three study areas. The honeysuckle we treated we painted with a spot of colored tree paint. We marked untreated control shrubs with another color. We did the treatments on May 22, 2014.
The honeysuckle would wilt over the summer. We waited until September of that year to collect our data. We found 100% mortality.
The method works, but it is important to find all the shrubs to treat, and return a few years in a row to treat the ones you missed. You can also mow down the live shrubs and just treat the re-sprouts.
We then decided to try to publish our findings. That proved to be a lot of work. Research, emailing researchers for clarifications, visits to the University Library. Leah was there on every step and did the writing. We worked at it for too long and Ecological Restoration took pity on us and published our finding in their “Restoration Notes” section. There is a paywall, but here is a link to the first page of three http://er.uwpress.org/content/36/4/267.extract Below I copy the same essential text.
Above is us in 2014.
Leah is now a graduate student in forestry looking at the composition of the understory plants in oak woodlands. Bill and Susan still go out together on weekends treating shrubs. Romantic, huh.
Successful Control of Lonicera maackii (Amur Honeysuckle) with Basal Bark HerbicideLeah R. Kleiman, Bill P. Kleiman and Susan K. H. Kleiman
Lonicera maackii (family Caprifoliaceae), often referred to as Amur Honeysuckle, is a perennial shrub native to temperate Asia. In the Midwestern United States, L. maackii is an invasive shrub that was first made available as an ornamental plant and was later used for soil retention (Saxton 2012). The shrub now infests many savannas, woodlands, and grasslands in the region. Lonicera maackii has traits that make it a strong competitor. The shrub’s leaves emerge very early in spring and stay green long into fall. Lonicera maackii can dominate the shrub canopy, leaving ground layer plants with much reduced sunlight. The shrub also produces allelopathic chemicals that inhibits other species (Hartman and McCarthy 2004). Its seeds are highly viable, germinate easily, and recruit readily, especially in areas with a lot of sunlight (Schulz and Wright 2015). The shrub rarely shows signs of disease.
Lonicera maackii is difficult to eradicate. Spraying the foliage causes herbicide to land on large areas of the ground layer, likely damaging desirable plants. Pulling the shrub from the ground when plants are small is effective, but even modestly-sized plants are a physical challenge to pull and leave the soil disturbed. Cutting the plant and applying herbicide to the cut stem produces high mortality; however, cutting can be laborious (Love and Anderson 2009). Mowing shrubs and prescribed fire can top-kill the plants, which will re-sprout.
In this study, we examined the efficacy of basal bark application in the month of May. We chose to study a basal bark herbicide treatment in May because in the few weeks after prescribed fire season (March-April), Nachusa Grasslands’ herbaceous weed management season has not started, and it is obvious which shrubs have not been killed by prescribed fire or previously treated with herbicide. We conducted this 2014 work at The Nature Conservancy’s Nachusa Grasslands preserve, Ogle County, Illinois (latitude 41° 53’ 41.64” N, longitude 89° 22’ 11.28” W, elevation 247 m). The site was in the Stone Barn Savanna unit with an over-story of Quercus alba (white oak), Quercus velutina (black oak), Quercus macrocarpa (bur oak), Carya ovata (shagbark hickory), and Carya cordiformis (bitternut hickory). The tract was purchased in 1999 and had a dominant understory cover of L. maackii shrubs. The study area was within a prescribed burn unit that has had almost annual fire since 1999; however, some of this area has had little direct fire due to the dense shading from the shrubs providing little fuel to carry fire. No fire occurred in the treatment plots from the herbicide application on May 22, 2014 to the data collection on September 13 and 14, 2014.
We randomly chose three treatment plots from 0.45 ha of a ridgeline running East/West. The plots were relatively flat with a slight southern aspect with a slope of 0-3%. The three plots were each approximately 30 m in the East/West direction and 15 m in the North/South direction. All three treatments plots were dense with L. maackii, with a ground layer of exposed soil and a few typical herbaceous plants such as Geranium maculatum (wild geranium), Ageratina altissima (white snakeroot), Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard), Circaea lutetiana (enchanter’s nightshade), and Pilea pumila (clearweed). One of the three treatment areas contained a retired, shallow, dolomite quarry.
The main treatment was basal bark herbicide applied to L. maackii. We also had a treatment of the mineral oil carrier without herbicide (to confirm the herbicide, not the carrier, was the lethal agent). We also had a control whereby no treatments were made to L. maackii. The shrubs varied in size with stem diameters ranging from 0.25-15 cm at ground level. Those that were multi-stemmed had re-sprouted from previous mowing or burning.
The treatments were performed from May 22-25, 2014.For the controls, live shrubs were chosen and marked with a 10-15 cm stripe of orange tree-marking paint (on upper stems) and left as is.; For the main test of basal bark herbicide, again live individual shrubs were chosen and marked with a 10-15 cm stripe of blue tree-marking paint and then basal bark herbicide with mineral oil carrier was applied to all stems of each shrub by spraying using a Birchmeier Flox backpack sprayer. The basal bark herbicide was Garlon 4 Ultra with active ingredient 60% triclopyr (Dow). This herbicide/mineral oil mix was made as follows: 10 L of Garlon 4 Ultra added to a 57 L drum containing 47 L Bark Oil Red LT (Loveland Products). So the total solution is 57 L in the drum which is a 17% solution. Shrubs were sprayed with approximately a 15 cm band close to the soil, and sprayed such that the circumference of all stems were covered. To test if the mineral oil carrier had any effect on mortality, live shrubs were chosen and marked with a 10-15 cm stripe of yellow tree-marking paint and then Bark Oil Red LT mineral oil was applied to all stems of each shrub with a Birchmeier Flox backpack herbicide sprayer.
We did all the applications during the same four days, choosing live shrubs at random, (first the control, then the herbicide, then the mineral oil). Each shrub was spray painted with tree marking paint with its particular color so that we were confident several months later which shrubs were treated and which were control. We assessed efficiency of the treatments in causing mortality on September 13 and 14, 2014. To confirm mortality we examined each treated shrub for browning of leaves, number of dead stems, number of living stems, and diameter of the largest stem.
Basal bark application with triclopyr in the growing season yielded 100% mortality on 261 plants of L. maackii. The herbicide was effective on all diameters of shrub encountered, from 0.25 cm to 15 cm. Applying mineral oil without herbicide yielded 4% mortality. There was 0% mortality in the control treatment.
The literature is sparse on the efficacy of basal bark application on L. maackii. We found only two relevant papers. One of these studies was performed in January 2003, in which the authors found inconsistent and poor control using basal bark applications, possibly due to the treatment being applied in the dormant winter months (Rathfon and Ruble 2007). In 2004 Rathfon (2006) repeated this original study with a similar experiment which found 95% mortality. In correspondence with us, Rathfon confirmed that basal bark application was effective. In Rathfon and Ruble (2007), the study area had very dense undergrowth and individual shrubs were not marked after being sprayed with herbicide, so some smaller shrubs were likely missed during the treatment work. There was also an inch of snow on the ground with very cold temperatures. Rathfon noted the herbicide label cautions against applying with snow on the ground or when bark is moist or frozen. In the second study, Rathfon (2006) found very effective control of L. maackii applying basal bark triclopyr herbicide in various months. Our experiment is consistent with Rathfon (2006).
A May 2012 study by Nachusa volunteer Mike Carr resulted in 100% mortality of 208 basal bark treated plants of all sizes with no control. This experiment and our current experiment show basal bark to be highly effective in the growing season (May). Other control methods such as cut-and-treat, and foliar applications have been found to be effective; however, basal bark application offers advantages such as: 1)Basal bark application kills a smaller area of surrounding desirable plants than foliar spraying due to the wide spray pattern needed for foliar herbicide on tall shrubs; 2)Basal bark application is quiet, safe, and efficient. Cut-and-treat takes more time, is physically demanding, and is hazardous due to the use of cutting tools; and 3)Basal bark application has no soil disturbance, whereas manual or machine pulling of the plant root does.
Does basal bark application work in the dormant season? The total mortality of our early May application is clear, and Rathfon (2006) supports good dormant season control. However, further studies of applications throughout a year are needed to increase confidence in this method.
If basal bark herbicide is applied to shrubs in fall, winter, or spring does a follow-up fire that top kills the shrub stems still allow the chemical to kill the roots?
What is the extent of damage to nearby plants from applying basal bark herbicide? Natural areas managers have occasionally noted such damage and browning of vegetation adjacent to basal barked stems. Is this due to overspray, runoff, applying on wet stems, or applying on hot days? Future experiments could be done on how this off-target damage compares to foliar spraying.
What basal bark mixture is most effective? This study used 17% triclopyr whereas others are using 20% triclopyr and some are adding a second herbicide to increase potency of the herbicide mix.
Management Recommendations for Controlling L. maackii, and Other Invasive Shrubs
Map out occurrences in your area of interest. Take a few photos from fixed points and retake photos later to see progress.
Implement prescribed fire when feasible and keep a short return interval as this will top kill many shrubs and keep them from setting seed.
Use basal bark techniques when the brush is not too dense to traverse on foot. Use a brush mower on thickets and then basal bark herbicide the individual re-sprouting shrubs after they emerge in late spring.
For areas that have had L. maackii invasion for years it will take more than one year of treatment. The reintroduction of native understory herbaceous species may be needed to restore such an area to quality native habitat (Hopfensprenger et al 2017).
Here we demonstrated the efficacy of basal bark herbicide application to invasive L. maackii shrubs in May with the shrubs in full leaf. All treated shrubs died. All sizes of shrubs were effected equally. Applying an oil-based herbicide to the bark (basal bark application) is efficient because: 1) the mortality is very high; 2) the work is physically easier than cutting the shrubs one by one; and 3) the damage to nearby desirable plants is limited to several inches surrounding the shrub. The herbicide mix is expensive, but time and safety gains makes the treatment cost competitive.
Mike Carr assisted us on several L. maackii control studies that enlightened our design of this study. We also thank Ronald Rathfon for his help in discussing his studies.
Hartman, K.M. and B.C. McCarthy. 2004. Restoration of a Forest Understory After the Removal of an Invasive Shrub, Amur Honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii). Restoration Ecology12:154-165.
Hopfensperger, K.N., R.L. Boyce and D. Schenk. 2017. Removing Invasive Lonicera maackii and Seeding Native Plants Alters Riparian Ecosystem Function. Ecological Restoration35:320-327.
Love, J.P. and J.T. Anderson. 2009. Seasonal Effects of Four Control Methods on the Invasive Morrow’s Honeysuckle (Lonicera morrowii) and Initial Responses of Understory Plants in a Southwestern Pennsylvania Old Field. Restoration Ecology17:549-559.
Rathfon, R.A. 2006. Application timing of 20 basal bark herbicide and oil diluent combinations applied to two sizes of Amur honeysuckle. In Hartzler, Robert G; Alice N. Hartzler, eds. North Central Weed Science Society Abstracts 61. [CD-ROM Computer File]. North Central Weed Sci. Soc., Champaign, IL. (Dec. 2006). 61:189k
Rathfon, R.A. and K. Ruble. 2007. Herbicide treatments for controlling invasive bush honeysuckle in a mature hardwood forest in west-central Indiana. In: Buckley, David S.; Clatterbuck, Wayne K.; [Editors] 2007. Proceedings, 15th central hardwood forest conference. E-Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS-101. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Research Station. Pp. 187-197. [CD-ROM].
At Nachusa Grasslands we have miles of fire breaks that are mowed once a year in the Fall. We typically use a batwing rotary mower or a flail mower and mow two to four passes with the mower and make them wide and mowed short. Often, there is a stewardship lane as part of the fire break, so the mowing is to widen either side of the lane to have a very wide fire break. Have you noticed that fire breaks that seem wide are not so once the fire begins? I have.
When we mow prairie the biomass is still there on the break. What if we could get that vegetation off the fire break, or at least off to the side of the fire break?
This review will show three types of hay rakes we have tried over the years.
A few points on rakes before I get started:
Raking a fire break makes it easier to control the fire line.
All rakes move the hay to one side. To move it to the other side you drive the other direction.
All rakes leave a windrow of hay. That is their function. If you have a hay baler you can bale it up and use it. We don’t own a baler, instead, we use a tractor mounted PTO driven leaf blower to blow the windrows off the fire break. It works slick and I will show that on a different note.
Rake 1 of 3: An old John Deere hay rake. It is simple with three rubber tires. One rear tire turns the rake shaft. The two handles above the front wheel raise and lower one side or the other of the rake. Watch these two short videos to see how they work on fire breaks:
As you can see the rake moves quite a bit of mowed prairie off to the side. Used they go for $1,000 to $3,500. New they are at least $7,000.
Simple to run. Get to know it and it will work consistently, but likely require attention daily.
You can pull this with any size tractor, but also with a pickup truck and sometimes a UTV for a short run.
The rubber tines that move the hay get beat up from prairie ant mounds, rocks, stumps, fencerow humps. You can buy replacement tines in Farm stores or from JD.
The round metal hoops that these rubber tines spin “within” get bent from the ant mounds, rocks, etc.. When the hoops bend it catches the spinning tines and locks them up, or breaks them off. They can be bent straight with some grunting. About every day you will be bending a few back straight.
The drive shaft that connects the tire to the rake has a highway mode. You disconnect the shaft and store it on a peg on the frame so you can now go tearing down the road to get to your worksite. But…that shaft can bounce off the mounting peg and slide off the rake with the shaft lost in the road ditch. So take some wire and affix it so it can’t slide off.
It is hard to turn this rake around if you get in a tight dead end. It reverses worse than a hay wagon due to the front wheel turning. You disconnect it and grunt a bunch to turn it around or back it up. Reconnect and go.
If you come to an obstruction like a fence row the old ones raise up with hand cranks. You get off the tractor and crank both adjusters, drive past the obstruction, get off again and lower the rake, and get back on the tractor and proceed. Some of the used ones have an hydraulic lift cylinder which is likely worth the expense.
Rake 2 of 3: Sitrex brand four wheel hay rake. $1,700 for a new one.
Those four wheels simply turn as they make contact with the vegetation. They don’t spin fast.
Does the job, but not as thorough as the other two. You might need to make a few passes to get the same amount of hay moved.
It stores pretty well in a shed or outside.
If you come to dead ends you can typically lift the rake all the way off the ground and reverse.
It can be a puzzle to figure out how to get this running each year. The frame maneuvers about for transport or trying to rake to the other side. I painted hints on the frame to remind me how I had it set up. And I took photos.
The clips that hold the frame pivots can fall out and two of the four wheels will fall off.
Watch for pinching your fingers as you rotate the frame around as you puzzle how that thing is to be set up.
When you go through a gate you may need to rotate the frame.
Rake 3 of 3: Kubota RA1035. $6,500 new.
This model is a 3-point hitch style with a PTO that spins the rake. In the photo above you can see that the rear rake tines are tilted back and up. As the tines rotate they turn down to move the hay to the driver side and then lift up towards the rear of the rake. Some carnival rides work like this.
We have used this one for two seasons and we like it a lot.
This rake moves the most hay. It is impressive. You can really move the thatch and mowed material to the side.
You can drive as slow as you wish because the PTO is turning the rake, not your wheels. Going slow on prairies is better as there are various obstructions you need to watch for that are not in a typical hay field.
This 3 point hitch model allows you to lift up the rake when you come to rough ground, a fencerow, etc.. Very convenient. The wheels are typically on the ground but you can transport with the rake in the air if you wish.
If you come to a dead end you can lift up the rake with the 3 point hitch and turn around.
The rake tines are long and I expect them to handle the abuse of vegetation tussocks of a prairie.
The gear box has a gear release for when you forget to raise the rake over that fencerow hump. You hear the gearbox going click, click, click, and then a bit later reconnecting to the rake.
This unit stores in a small space because the tines come off and are stored upright.
It takes very little horsepower to run this rake.
This one cost $6,500.
I need a few more seasons with this one to know about reliability.
A few tips on this Kubota rake:
Above is a modified pallet that allows the rake storage stand to sit on the pallet and be moved around the building with the pallet mover.
We find it better to store the rake on a high point on that footstand. The next time you hook up the rake the higher position works better for our tractor.
Dry lube the rake tine sections tubes where they go into the rotating frame.
Each rake tine section is held in with a hitch pin clip. Get a few extra from your dealer as there are various sizes.
Summary: Hay rakes are good to use on fire breaks. Hay rakes create wind rows of vegetation. Look for my review note on PTO leaf blowers that we use to eliminate hay windrows.