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Redbud Society digs into insects with UNG's Dr. Evan Lampert
0406 GO REDBUD EvanLampert
Dr. Evan Lampert

Redbud Project Georgia Native Plant Society meeting

When: 6:30 p.m. gather and 7 p.m. program April 11

Where: First Presbyterian Church, 800 S. Enota Drive NE, Gainesville

Cost: Free

More info: redbudproject@gmail.com

Insects can damage plants but a hole in a leaf of your favorite one does not need to be the death sentence for the bug.

Of the one million known insect species, only 1 percent to 3 percent are considered pests. The remaining insects prey on pests to regulate the pest population.

University of North Georgia Gainesville entomologist Dr. Evan Lampert understands this intimately and appreciates insects’ benefit to human beings. He plans to share his perspective and research into the life of insects during the meeting of the Redbud Project Georgia Native Plant Society Tuesday, April 11, at First Presbyterian Church in Gainesville. The free event will begin with a gathering at 6:30 p.m. followed by the program at 7 p.m. in Swetenberg Hall in the church at 800 S. Enota Drive NE in Gainesville.

The title of Lampert’s program is “Bug your pardon? How insects depend on native plants to thrive in Georgia.”

As Lampert will attest, good insects are most effective as pest controllers with no need for insecticide spray.

One example is his research on the catalpa sphinx caterpillar, a defoliator of native catalpa trees. These caterpillars can defoliate ornamental trees two or more times in a single year.

The parasitic wasp works hard to control the pest caterpillar. The adult female injects its eggs into the caterpillars. The eggs hatch into grub-like larvae that feed on tissue of the caterpillar hosts. When they finish eating, they chew small holes in the caterpillar’s skin and squeeze through to spin cocoons on the outside of the still-living caterpillar.

The caterpillar stops eating leaves while the wasps stay on its exoskeleton until they mature and fly away. A day or two later, the caterpillar dies.

Through this process, insects play the important role in the cycle of life by balancing the natural environment.

For more information, email redbudproject@gmail.com.

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