Japanese Beetle Lifecycle and Management: Up Close and Virtual?

Learning life cycles for managing pests

Japanese beetle
Japanese beetle adults

As someone who sees the value in learning plant and pest life cycles as a method of knowing when and how to manage plant problems in the garden, I very much value life cycle diagrams. However,  despite seeing many of them through PowerPoint slides or handouts in years of undergraduate or graduate school, I just can’t seem to commit very many to long-term memory, unless of course, I learn them and then apply them to my practices in the garden nearly immediately.

Unfortunately, where I live, the growing season is short, winters long, and sometimes it works better for me, logistically, if I do the bulk of my reading, homework, or learning of new gardening concepts, ideas, and strategies in the winter. This way I can devote most of my time to applying that knowledge in the garden once summer is here.

Virtual Worlds:  3D Immersive Learning Environments

Image of YouTube video: Life cycle of Japanese Beetle
Under a lawn in a 3D Immersive Japanese beetle grub habitat (Show here: part 2 in Japanese Beetle Lifecycle YouTube series)

Fortunately for me, new 3D virtual learning environments are emerging as new educational tools. These virtual environments can be really helpful for triggering new understanding, memory, and even behavior change (see the April 8, Stanford Report:  New virtual reality research – and a new lab – at Stanford).

With the help of LuAnn Phillips, eXtension’s virtual world’s coordinator, Penn State extension educator, Jeff Fowler, has immersed himself in teaching through a virtual Japanese beetle exhibit. This exhibit is found in a virtual world called Second Life. Second Life  is gaining recognition for becoming a rich, immersive learning environment. While the masses may not all be ready to download the software required to move an avatar around in a virtual world, videos of instructors interacting within the virtual world can be captured to help create simulations for learners that make online instruction look and feel, well – real.

Lifecycle of the Japanese Beetle in Second Life captured on YouTube

Phillips and Folwer have captured several learning interactions in a four-part YouTube video series, titled: Japanese Beetle Lifecycle. His resources are targeted for gardeners and yard managers in the Northeastern United States (so in viewing these resources, if you’re not from the Northeast U.S. you’ll also want to check your local state or county extension office on Japanese beetle biology and management specific to your area or view the USDA APHIS, Japanese Beetle web page).

To understand exactly why a virtual world caught on video can be a such great educational moment , you must visit part 2: Viewing a grub habitat and lifecycle stages. It’s here where Fowler takes you underground to look at beetle grubs feeding on the turfgrass roots. This is something that is nearly impossible to view in real life, but is an exceptional learning opportunity in Second Life (in my opinion, anyway).

Check out the Lifecycle of the Japanese Beetle videos, parts 1-4, up close and virtual:

Video these videos, using the link, or by clicking on the embedded YouTube video below:

What do you think?

What do you think? Can you see this learning environment as something that may be useful in teaching or learning for another topic or subject?

Interested in going to the 3D Japanese Beetle Lifecycle Exhibit in Second Life?

If you would like to see the Japanese Beetle exhibit shown in the YouTube videos above, you can go there using your own avatar. LuAnn Phillips says all you’ll need is a free Second Life user account. Go to http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Morrill/114/198/24 (this link takes you directly to the Japanese beetle entrance) and follow the online instructions. Need help getting started in Second Life? Email eXtension’s Second Life, mentor at luann.phillips@extension.org.

Karen Jeannette
eXtension Consumer Horticulture Content Coordinator

EAB Monitoring and Management Online Course

A few weeks ago, we learned about EAB University hosting live and recorded webinars available to Extension Master Gardeners and the public so they can stay current with Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) and other invasive forest pests. Now we have learned of an online course available to Extension Master Gardeners who want to know more about monitoring and managing EAB.

This free online course,  Emerald Ash Borer Monitoring & Management, is hosted by the National Plant Diagnostic Network (NPDN), and provides an overview of EAB ecology; empowering learners to effectively detect and manage EAB in their communities.  The entire course takes about 90 minutes to complete and consists of 6 modules which users can take at their own pace.

The course was developed by Virginia Tech’s  Eric Wiseman, Sarah Gugercin, Dave Close, and Heather Boyd, funded by the USDA Forest Service (Forest Health Protection),  and reviewed by Jodie Ellis (Purdue University). When I talked with Sarah Gugercin about how this would be different than the EAB University webinars we blogged about several weeks ago,   Sarah explained that the EAB Monitoring and Management online course is meant to serve as an introduction to EAB, and allows users to interact with the content through quizzes and other interactive course features. The EAB University webinars complement this introductory course because they go into detail about specific issues, and in fact, those that take the online course are referred to EAB University webinars if they are interested in learning more advanced EAB topics.

Virginia Cooperative Extension has approved 1.5 continuing education credits for (Virginia) Extension Master Gardeners taking this course (check the Virginia Tech EAB Online Course website for other organizations that can receive continuing education credits) .   Note to Extension Master Gardeners in other states: You’ll want to be sure to check with your local coordinator to see if this course may apply for continuing education in your state, region, or county.

To learn more about taking this free course, visit the  Virginia Tech EAB Online Course website: or download the CourseAnnouncement flyer.

Emerald Ash Borer University: Providing Webinars and Information on Invasive Forest Pests

Guest post provided by Robin Usborne, Michigan State University; Amy Stone, The Ohio State University Extension; and Jodie Ellis, Purdue University

What’s “Bugging” You?

EAB University logo
EAB University, offering free webinars, and information on invasive forest pests

Sometimes they hide in wood packing material from shipping ports all over the world. Other times they hitch a ride in a load of firewood going to a campground or summer cottage. But once they’re here, the trees are never safe.

Sounds a bit like a horror movie, but invasive forest pests like the emerald ash borer (EAB) can wreak havoc on North American woodlands and urban forests. As the pest invasion continues across the U.S. and Canada, communication and outreach is vital to combat the onslaught, but in these days of slashed travel budgets and increased conference expenses, it takes some creative thinking to get this information to those who want it.

EAB University – Free Webinars and Invasive Forest Pest Information

That’s where Emerald Ash Borer University comes in. EAB University is a series of free webinars that bring information on the latest issues surrounding EAB and other invasive forest pests to anyone needing the information. The webinars are given by scientists and experts in the field, and anyone with a computer with Internet access can view them. EAB University was developed by Michigan State University, Purdue University and the Ohio State University communications specialists who have been dealing with the invasive pest since it was discovered in North America in 2002, and is funded by the USDA Forest Service, Forest Health and Economics Division. Webinars are much like a presentation given at a conference, but the conference room encompasses the world. Participants are able to comment and ask questions via a “chat” function during the webinar, and the presenters provide contact information for anyone needing additional information.

EAB University was launched in 2010, and quickly became a hit. More than 1,200 people registered for the sessions, and those who weren’t able to “attend” the live webinars were able to watch the recorded sessions, which are archived on the www.emeraldashborer.info website.

New this year –  expanded curriculum covers more invasive forest pests

This year, EAB University has expanded the curriculum to include webinars on other wood-boring pests and diseases, such as hemlock wooly adelgid, thousand cankers, Asian longhorned beetle and viburnum leaf beetle.

Extension educators, arborists and tree care specialists have offered EAB University webinars as part of their education and outreach meeting schedules. Continuing education credits are available for many of the live webinars. These sessions are the next best thing to having the experts in person.

Visit Emerald Ash Borer University on the www.emeraldashborer.info website. You can watch an archived webinar, or mark your calendar for an upcoming session of interest. These webinars bring experts from around the country right to your computer, anytime and anywhere. Thanks for your
interest in keeping those bad bugs at bay!