Photo Credit –

                This is the time of year that one begins to notice a lot of different insects and spiders that have overwintered in some fashion. One of these resembles, well, for lack of a better description, wads of spit in some tree limbs. This white frothy foam mass is home for the nymphal form of one of several species of Spittlebugs that we have in our area.

                A common species here and that is shown in the photo is the Pine or Spruce Spittlebug, Aphrophora parallella. Different species prefer different host plants and this particular one as reflected in the name prefers pine and spruce.

                Spittlebugs overwinter as eggs inserted into living or dead twigs. Once the young hatch they make their way to the younger tender new growth at the tip of twigs, insert mouthparts to feed and begin exuding the white frothy foam as seen in the photo. The foam mass hides the nymph from predators, keeps it moist, and apparently tastes bad to some predators. As the nymph grows it will move around on the tree and sometimes more than one can be found in a foam mass. When mature the nymph will emerge from the foam and molt into an adult. The adult insects have wings and jumping legs and are sometimes referred to as leafhoppers and froghoppers.

                Large populations can damage young trees with feeding holes made through the bark. The wounds can allow various disease organisms to enter the tree. Also, moisture formed where the foam mass dissolves and drips onto other twigs can invite fungal growth.

© 2015 Jack Glisson of

 Published in The Ballard County Weekly 06/03/2015



      Photo Credit –

                Travel around almost any large body of water in our area this time of year and one is likely to see an Osprey, or Pandion haliaetus hunting for fish. Another common name for this bird is Fish Hawk.

                Rarely seen in our land locked counties ospreys are a common sight near the Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, and Cumberland Rivers. This is because their diets consist of 99% fish. Well adapted for this diet an osprey will dive from heights up to 100 feet and plunge feet first into the water to grab their prey. Their feet are built to the task and with 2 forward and 2 rearward facing talons along with gripping pads once a fish is caught escape is unlikely. Once caught, they will turn the fish head first into the wind to make flying easier.

                An osprey uses the same nest year after year adding to it each nesting season. They can become quite large.  Usually in April or May 3 to 4 eggs are laid. The eggs do not hatch at the same time though so there is usually a dominant chick. If a food shortage occurs this chick may be the only survivor because it is able to get most of the food and smaller chicks may starve.

                Ospreys became rare during the 1950’s and 1960’s. Wide use of pesticides such as DDT caused thinning of their egg shells so that most never hatched. Following the ban on DDT and implementation of hacking programs and artificial nest sights the osprey has enjoyed a come-back.

                Long lived for a bird ospreys can live up to 25 years.

© 2015 Jack Glisson of

 Published in The Ballard County Weekly 06/010/2015



      Photo Credit –

                Seems every where one goes this time of year the showy orange colors of Daylilies, Hemerocallis fulvay, are growing in road ditches. By the time this column comes out though we may be near the end of their season.

                The daylily is actually not a true lily but that is ok since it has many positive points in its favor due to this! True lilies are mostly poisonous but the common daylily is edible in several different stages. The roots can be boiled or baked (the new white colored ones are best), young shoots can be eaten either raw in salads or cooked, and petals can be added to salads. My favorite however is to pick the un-opened flower buds, dip them in batter, and deep fry them in your oil of choice.  I haven’t tried them this way but see no reason these buds can’t be sautéed or stir fried as well.

                Not a native plant, the daylily was brought from Asia. Found in road ditches, old home-places, and yards, it has naturalized itself to the point that it is here to stay. Many imported plants compete with native species to the point where they cause problems, however the common daylily seems to have found a nitch in roadsides and waste areas where it really doesn’t compete, at least in this area, with crops. As a matter of fact, they can be used in damp areas for help with erosion control so may actually benefit some locations.

                Daylilies typically do not spread by seed. Instead they grow rhizomes, (underground stems) and a cutting of that can be used to start another clump in a place of your choice.

                OK, I do not normally like imported, out of hand, exotic species.  The daylily however doesn’t seem to be crowding native species out and has culinary benefits as well. Learn to identify it and enjoy!

                As usual though, neither the paper nor my-self are responsible for the mis-identification and possible untoward side effects from eating unknown wild plants.

© 2015 Jack Glisson of

 Published in The Ballard County Weekly 06/24/2015