Tuesday, April 24, 2012

With The Good Comes The Not So Good

By: Judi Stuart
Port Discover - Visitor Services Manager

With The Good Comes The Not So Good

As I drove to Wilmington during the third week in March, I was amazed by the amount of Carolina jasmine growing everywhere. When I arrived at my destination, the azaleas and pear trees were in full bloom. All of these happenings seemed to be weeks earlier than usual.

My guess was that our unusually warm winter had something to do with the early spring. Come to find out, they even have a name for it, the Jumanji effect, named after the 1995 movie starring Robin Williams in which animals emerged from a board game to terrorize people.

In this case, the animals will be bears and other hibernating creatures in some parts of the country that will emerge from their dens early and be ravenously hungry before nature is fully ready for them. If they can’t find food, they may have to invade human territory sooner or later.

One of the things that fascinates me in so many aspects of life is that often good events have a flip side that may not be so good. All of us have been grateful for the warmer winter resulting in lower heating bills. We are about to experience some of the other outcomes of the record mild winter which in a way disturbed some aspects of our ecosystem.

All forms of insects including mosquitoes will be with us in greater numbers this summer. Farmers may have larger harvest, but they will have to battle insects and other hungry creatures. Greater production may mean lower prices.

The tick population will not only increase but will be spread by the larger numbers of deer that lived through the winter. Since ticks carry Lyme disease, we may experience an increase of that problem.

Agricultural extension agent Tom Campbell reports that fire ants are already being seen in large numbers, and he recommends they should be poisoned promptly to prevent their spread. Each untreated mound may generate 20-50 new mounds by mid-summer, if left alive to spread.

Mr. Campbell says he personally has killed 8 mounds in January, a couple dozen in February, and more than a score in March and April so far. By this time last year, he had only killed two. He thinks that if we get regular rain, we’ll definitely have many more mounds this year than last.

Local gardeners and farmers have been able to plant things much earlier and strawberries, asparagus, spinach, radishes, lettuce, and other early fruits and veggies are ready for picking.

Agent Campbell also predicts that we will have a bountiful supply of pecans, and the animals will enjoy a large harvest of mast which includes acorns, hickory nuts, and other nuts and fruits borne by wild plants. Thus, they will be well provided for in the coming winter.

As with all things in life, we have to take the good with the bad.

Check out this video about 'Jumanji effect and global weather patterns' ::

For more information visit this website: http://www.nyserda.ny.gov/Publications/Research-and-Development/Environmental/EMEP-Publications/Response-to-Climate-Change-in-New-York.aspx
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