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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Letter (e-mail) to Pennsylvania and Maryland DNR, 01-17-2012, Topic, Brown Marmorated Stink Bug and Bees Colonies, and Hybrid Plants and Seeds, as well as, MonoCultures

I am researching a few things of interest and I am posting these to offer help, ideas, and hope you will read the links and share your collective experience, so please email me or comment to these blog postings so we can all share what we know and solve these issues quickly, as they are vital to our collective fruitful future.

My blog link titled:

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug ERADICATION TEST in CUMBERLAND, MARYLAND, Bee Colony Loss in The United States


That is a link to my blog and I have been studying and observing changes I have seen as of recent.

When you read that first, what follows will make much more sense.

I know where a GREAT and large natural bee population is that is unknown and I would like to share that with you if you get back with me. Perhaps it can be monitored safely, and should be. I live close to orchards, both abandoned and operable, lots of farming, and in a city that is part of the vast array of The Chesapeake Bay Watersheds drainage contributors.

I was born in Camphill, Pa., grew up in Alexandria, Va., a stones throw from Washington D.C., where my Father, a retired West Point Colonel was stationed at the pentagon, and now reside in beautiful Cumberland, Maryland.

So as I stated, I live in Cumberland, Maryland, and I hike often when well abled enough to do so, and I have always been an naturalist like my Great Grandfather, R.J.H. DeLoach, as well as have a degree in a science, and a high scientific aptitude, so therefore, I am simply curious my nature and seek answers often.

He was friends with, " The Vagabonds" (Ford , Edison, Firestone, and Burroughs) and it is from there I take my name John, as he was fully named Robert John Henderson DeLoach, and was a professor, a scientist and a naturalist.

(Not in the original letter:

The following link contains an idea I have as well as some information about those fine men, and some wonderful pictures

close )

He inspires me, as do my parents.

He even authored a biography on John Burroughs that is available on Google Books for free in it's entirety.

It is titled, "Rambles with Burroughs".

He did a lot of work that it looks to me should be looked at now.

He understood natural methods for high productivity and efficiency, and it seems to me we have collectively strayed far from that path and are paying a high price for it now.

I understand this too, as it is just in my blood through my family and I am naturally drawn to this as well as keenly aware and sensitive as well as incredibly curious about these issues.

That link above is an article I authored that was featured by The United States Department of Energy. 

You may enjoy reading that as well, and it does fit in to the philosophy I have outlined in that publication, which is really a second but overall topic in that letter, and since it's publication, there has been quite a shift towards the philosophy I believe I first came up with, and they must too at the US Dept. of Energy, or I doubt they would have bothered to publish me otherwise.

I define the Green Era there very simply, and I here the green this and the green that, bit never the Green Era, until I wrote of it, however I am well aware more then likely a million others may have had the same notion, as is so often the case. I felt honoured to be published, as I write often, and enjoy it immensely, but even more deeply find it is a great catalyst to change, as most folks do not bother to take the time to express what they should share with others, especially those that help mold and shape our collective future.

So again, that was a pleasant surprise, but the point of it was to help others and make a change so that when I am long gone, others may benefit, instead of, "be in a larger pickle", so to speak.

I am just writing off the cuff in lay terms so please excuse the unprofessional voice you may detect in my words, as I am ill, going through disability, and the good thing there is I have lots of time to research, observe, and think, and you can see I try to maximize my time, which often includes quick off the cuff writing, and using lay terms to communicate with more people.

I am sending this email to the Pennsylvania DNR, The Maryland DNR, and perhaps elsewhere.

I enjoy your websites often and find great caring people in your professional communitty and have received wonderful replies when I have written to you  before.

Please read my blog (the first link) and it's over all hypotheses will sum up the entire posting thus far.

It is a work in progress, hypothetical but understandable, and I am looking into these things more as I research and talk with others.

Switching subjects, I have a ton of the Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs here in Cumberland, and so do all my friends.

That was what first made me hypothesize a few things last year and this year combined, as well as do a lot research and speak to friends.

I have been watching them closely and I have done some things around my home taht I reported in that particular blog entry, and those adjustments both simple and fruitful seem to help quite a bit in regaurds to the "stink bug" issues at hand and I think help restore a natural balance.

I do not think restoring a natural balance is so difficult, as much as understanding the bigger picture is for most folks, as well as once that "bigger picture" is even more well described and defined through more research and comparative analysis, but waiting too long to act in the ways we do know help, may make a larger problem out of an already huge problem.

I hope you will connect the dots, perhaps much better then I have written about the there thus far, as that is a work in progress, that I will study each day, and hopefully gather feedback on.

Do you have any links I may post to my blog so that my readers can, through your sites, help you gather even more data?

I thought perhaps it is best to share these thoughts with you now, as they seem likely very legitimate, and perhaps your colleagues may enjoy investigating these ideas as well.

I am proud of Pennsylvania and Maryland to be in the lead in the environmental future of this country, and I think it is the most vital cause to our collective future, as we must do all we can in our power naturally to maintain these gifts we share in abundance here in the Western parts of the states, especially, where it is more rural.

Hiking in old growth and virgin areas like Cranesville Swamp or Buchannon State Forest, well there is nothing else like it, and I hope thee things do not change for 1000 more years to come.

Those places are both perfect examples of a balance between man and nature.

The history of the C.C.C. is amazing, especially in Buchannon State Forest, and I think we need a new program similar to that.

You may forward this to the F.D.A. and the E.P.A., as well if you think it would be fruitful in any way.

One last comment, just a thought that came to mind. 

As a Domestic Scientist, "as I was referred to by this particular comapny, Jung Seed Company, I was offered two hybrid Lilacs, and I took the offer. They are hybrids of American and Chinese Lilacs. 

Is that O.K.? The thought never occurred to me before, but now after these things I have read, well, two things, are there regulations about that, and are the plants I have actually "legal" I wonder now?

As a naturalist I was enthusiastic about the offer, however now nearly two years later, I wonder if I planted what was stated to me and it makes me contemplate the possibility that a company like that could possibly use plants...well for God knows what.

Just a final thought...Thinking of bees and pollination..well, I could mess up other natural Lilacs in the area if there is a cross pollination with my hybrids, and that never occurred to me until my research on the bees, in particular, so I though I had better ask now while my thought is fresh.

Lastly, another thought, am I allowed to keep bees in the city limits where I live, if I so choose, as I think it could be both beneficial, but threatening too, and I am allergic to them, or was terribly as a child, i have not been stung in a long time. 

I did have more honey bees this year then I have seen in several years, just by the simple things I explained in my blog posting, and the wildlife in my little 1/10 acre  yard was astonishing, however, my pear tree had only a few pears this last season, and it usually has 1,000's...may just be it;s cycle, but this is the first time in ten  years I have resided here that it's production was almost 0 (zero)...even when its a low level harvest, it still typically bears a few hundred pears, however it is an old tree and I have not yet pruned it, as I have to study when it is appropriate to do it, as well as get healthier so that I can do it, as I cannot afford to ire a professional, but I do want to do it soon.

I hope you will enjoy the reading at my blog, and please contact me through email or by phone.


John Stephen Swygert
Cumberland, Maryland

240-522-xxxx cell text voice mail

reply received 01-23-2012 at 9:23 a.m.

Hi John,

Thanks for your email.  I enjoyed reading your blog.  Decades ago it seemed like all naturalists kept great records of what they observed in a given day, and even published their observations, even if all they were doing was sitting on a bench and noting the species of butterflies that flew by, the time of day, etc.  It was written in a way that anyone could understand and enjoy, which unfortunately cannot generally be said about today’s scientific publications.  So I enjoyed reading your blog as it reminded me of a time where scientific literature was fun to read (and to write).

I don’t know that I can do an adequate job of addressing all of the points you raised, but some of my thoughts are as follows:

I also am not a fan of pesticides, as I also believe that they have a variety of negative impacts on invertebrates.  I am however, a licensed pesticide applicator, and I have used them in my work to try to control invasive plants for the benefit of native insects.  I guess I feel like sometimes there is a need for them, and I don’t understand farming well enough to evaluate that need.  However, I think it is in everyone’s best interest (vertebrate and invertebrate) to support local farms that are pesticide-free and grow a variety of crops, as the latter seems to alleviate the pest problems to some extent as well as the need for pesticides.  I think people are doing this more and more and starting to pay more attention to what they are eating and to how the food got to their table (as well as what it went through before it got there!).  I attached a couple of papers that I think may interest you on farming and the importance of native pollinators.  These are not what I would describe as easy bedtime reading but they are interesting and address some of the issues that you so passionately address in your blog.  I agree that nature will always try to strike a balance, but people have altered the natural world to such an extent that I think we need to step up and do more to help set things right (or at least, make things better).

I don’t know what the regulations are in your area for keeping bees.  You might try contacting the Maryland Bee Keeper’s Association.  But also, I would encourage you to check out the Xerces Society website, as they focus much of their work on native pollinators and might have information on attracting native bees to your area.  You don’t need a permit for that, as most native bees are solitary and don’t form big hives like honey bees do.  There are a lot of places now where you can buy or get directions on how to make little bee boxes for native bees (I have a couple in my backyard).  If you Google this topic I think you will find it fascinating and have more information to share with people on native pollinators. As for the lilacs, I actually had a talk with our botanist who informed me that we only have two species of lilacs in the US and both are non-native – one is European and the other is Asian.  Both were introduced and I’m certain that people have been planting these for decades.  I don’t think your two plants are causing environmental chaos but remember that in the future you can always chose to buy natives.

And gosh, what can I say about stink bugs?  I have heard people describe them as the modern-day plague.  The fruit idea is interesting but I’d keep an eye on your traps as lots of insects are attracted to rotting fruit, including butterflies.  You don’t want to have too much by-catch and start killing the native insects that you want to have around.  The light trap is a favorite of moth researchers, and used A LOT to trap moths, so keep on eye on those as well.  Moths and butterflies are two important groups of pollinators that you really don’t want to kill.  Killing a few stink bugs in a trap probably won’t do much to alter the population of stink bugs, but many butterflies and moths are rare and removing individuals from the populations of some species could negatively impact entirely populations if they are small to begin with.  There is a book – I will have to look it up for you – on the negative impact that artificial lights can have on insects of all kinds, particularly moths and beetles I would think, some of the most common insects at porch lights.

DNR does have a link that people can go to if they want to report sightings of rare species.  It is:  And if you are unsure about which species of animals or plants are rare, check out the plant and animal lists, also on the DNR website.



We don’t track common species, but I encourage everyone to get in touch with their inner Aldo Leopold and start writing down their observations.  People always tell me that “they used to see species X in this area all the time, and now it’s just gone.”  That kind of thing always makes me sad, especially when I am out looking for a species myself, in a place where “it had always been.”  Sometimes I think, have I missed my chance?  Is this species gone now from this area?  Will I ever see it? If all people started writing these things down and sharing the information, maybe it would encourage more people to really take notice of what is going on around them and take action to preserve what we still have left. 

Kudos to you for using your voice and sharing your thoughts and experiences.  I wish you improved health as well as happy internet searching.

Be well and thanks for sharing the links to your blog!  I’ll be sure to check in again.

Jen Frye
Invertebrate Ecologist
Natural Heritage Program



Thanks so much for your time and dedication to spend answering my email and it's many questions so quickly and poignantly.

I will carouse the links you have suggested of course, and appreciate the pointing out of the traps likely catching some good critters, not that any one is better then the other, but the stink bugs get the bottom of my list...simply because they are a complained about nuisance by so many, as well as what they can quickly do to crops.

I am a moth and butterfly lover in particular as well as a bird lover, so I of course do not want to jeopardize any others.

The stink bug breeding cycle and output in a short span is rather interesting.

It seems to me, after studying the life cycle and reproduction, and then doing a little math, that taking out a few stink bugs may make the difference between control of the population vs. a proliferation.

Looking forward to this years observations coming in the Spring in particular and I will report back what I am able to observe.

I also liked what you said about the butterflies and the older style notes.

Perhaps soon these data sets can more quickly be shared for the individual wanting to examine that data, as well as be posted to the DNR site so that they can be viewed as you spoke of, easily.

The amount of data being archived on the net now, especially physical data transferred to the net, is staggering.

Hopefully with further standardization, and/or, perhaps browsers where we can change the view of the data sets to our individual liking, more people will find easy access that brings them into the fold of Ecology.

Science is fun, and as you well know, is liked by many more folks when it is made easier to understand.

I posted your wonderful replay again to my blog but left off your email thus far, unless you prefer I include it.

I prefer correspondence to the blog come to me of course, and that responses to DNR can be sent to their main email address, as that is what I had to do and I want to respect that is the way the protocol appears.

I was pleased to see this email I sent get directly to you.

The DNR especially in my experience always gives a direct answer and always addresses the questions they can and are honest as can be about their answers. Sometimes that includes stating there is no answer.

The honesty and response time and specifity to stay on topic are very appreciated, and I think by sharing in this way, we are all able to find answers more quickly.

I would appreciate if you keep this in mind, and also if you are able to send any updates or suggestions, links, others experiences even if being both failures and successes.

This will help the reader base more so and hopefully we can find a simple solution that solves the issue, does no harm to the environment or other species, and is inexpensive and easily maintained.

I think if I had not written, well, how many moths and butterflies and praying mantises I could have wiped out, like you said, really affecting the overall results I found thus far last year.

I think communicating and planning in steps and patience are always critical, and it is easy to miss a seemingly simple mistake as I admittedly did, and I am glad your expertise and education caught me on that one !

As I do not want to take anymore of your valuable time, I appreciate again, very much, that you took time for writing a candid and honest answer that was simple and direct.

I can write in lay terms or technical terms.

The funny thing is on that topic, if one chooses to write in lay terms, the professional often look the other way without a second thought, and if you write in scientific terms, the lay person moves on as well.

A larger audience is more likely to exist in the "lay" area and therefore be well read by that audience, to whom I typically write, not to mention, it is easier to write this way, at least on line.

As this evolves, that is if it needs to evolve because there is no change in the proliferation and control of their population of course, then I may compile charts of data and the likes, if so needed to make a clear observation during my tests.

Really, it is all in good fun and I hope "fruitful", to use a bit of a pun to close out this thank you letter.

Does the DNR have folks that come out to the schools and address different grades.

This area is so pristine that I feel it would be a wonderful program if one does not exist, and may just be the spark to the thought of some youth to pursue a rewarding career similar to yours, where you are making a difference and they realize they can too.

My father is instrumental in MathCounts in Virginia, and I have seen some incredible stuff from the youth simply by assisting my dad and observing and sharing some of my Father's fantastic friendships with some super dynamic professional and some incredibly smart children.

Literacy and education and communication are keys I am always trying my best to weave into my collective writings such as these, but certainly not in my poetry or musical expression, per se, or not so directly anyway

I have included your wonderful words of expertise and advice in your reply in it's entirety to my blog postings.

Thanks so much,


NEWEST REPLY 01-25-2012

Hi Steve,

Thanks for your very nice response.I will check in on your site from time to time as I will be curious to see how your experiments are going.

I don’t necessarily need to know where the bees are located, although I agree that it can be really neat to see them in action.  I have had a couple of people in the past send me pictures of honey bee swarms and they are a fascinating thing to see.  I am glad you are getting a chance to enjoy them.

I’ll be honest that classroom visits are very rare.  There are only 20 or so people in the Natural Heritage Program and SOOO many schools.  It is hard to say yes to one teacher and no to others, and it would just be impossible to accommodate every teacher who expressed interest.  DNR as a whole, and particularly the Wildlife Division, offers many other educational opportunities that people can participate in, though.  Check out the following link for details:  Also, many of our State Parks have great nature centers and offer programs for kids and adults.   You will probably find more to do in the spring, summer and fall than you will in the middle of January, but take a look at the website for some information on outdoor educational opportunities through the Maryland State Parks system.  There is a lot to participate in if you know where to look!  Be sure to check in the spring when things start flying and blooming and emerging from a long winter’s rest.  

Yesterday I saw grasshopper nymphs and other small creatures as I was working down on the lower shore.  Some of us apparently have had quite enough rest and are ready to get moving.