July 4 parade in Urbana in a previous year


In a previous year, very close to our house


Another previous year

July 4th with a Twist

Normally (and nothing is really normal right now, with the Covid-19 pandemic, social-distancing and face coverings, protests over racism, a crazy US president) July 4th is a day of happiness and celebration. A day of parades, music, flags, crowds, fireworks. I suppose that might still be happening in some states where the guidelines for the spread of the pandemic are not being followed. But not here in Illinois, and not in our town of Urbana-Champaign.

In previous years we had a big parade that came down a street right by our house, so we could walk and watch the fun, feel the excitement. It was always crowded, with floats, marching bands, the Shriners on little motor cars, people giving out candy. But, that was all cancelled.


A neighborhood house this year


One page of the Urbana Amble flyer


This year

However, luckily we live in a very creative neighborhood, so a group put together something called Urbana Amble: Front Yard Garden and Art Tour, July 3 & 4. There were flyers and a PDF with the addresses and a brief description of what was there.

I walked around yesterday morning (July 4) and managed to find quite a few and take photos. Some of the others were further from our house and would have needed a short drive and then a walk, so I couldn’t do them all.

What I did find was such fun though—-thank you our Urbana neighborhood! Two that really stood out for me were Theo’s Museum of Interesting Things, and Rust on a Stick.


TheocloserTheo’s Museum is described thus: “Theo is a 5-year-old museum curator. He started his museum during the coronavirus. It has many things from the natural world (such as shells, rocks, animal bones, tree stump) and things from the material world (such as foreign currency, art). Some are found artefacts and some are permanent loans from neighbors. Theo hopes you’ll check out his museum and marvel at all the delights!” How wonderful is that for a project for a young child during the coronavirus times.



The rusty rabbit is face-covering-correct!

Rust on a Stick is “20 sculptures depicting people, plants and animals, made of welded, sometimes pierced, but always rusted iron. Recycled farm implements by local artists.” Except for two around the side, they are dotted around the front lawn of the house, the sticks planted into the grass.




Also fascinating is one garden with art sculptures—whimsical figures and creatures— made from old ceramic plant pots, and one with plant pots and old blue bottles.




blmAnd of course, there are many houses with USA flags and/or signs in support of the protests about racism and inequality.

Go Urbana!





The Bear statue


The Gorilla statue


Bear statue name

As I said earlier, during the Covid-19 stay-at-home orders in Illinois, we were lucky as we were still able to leave the house and walk in nearby local parks. One of those parks is the Robert Allerton Park (which I wrote about here https://viviennemackie.wordpress.com/2020/06/04/allerton-park-a-jewel-in-central-illinois/ ), and we visited a number of times, as there is so much to see and do there.

One visit we walked the Orange Trail that connects the main parking lot with the Fu Dog Gardenthrough the woods and were surprised and delighted to find two really interesting outdoor bronze sculptures that we’d not seen before. The inscription on one is “Denicheur d’Oursons” by Fremiet, the other is also by Fremiet but we couldn’t find a title on it. It’s a gorilla carrying off a woman. So, we were inspired to do a little investigating.




Side view of Gorilla statue

Turns out that these sculptures have a long and fascinating history. In October 2016 these two famous sculptures were returned to Allerton after a 30-year absence. They were mistakenly included as part of the transaction when the University of Illinois bought the Lorado Taft studio in 1937 (Lorado Taft is well-known local sculptor). Now I need to find out how Taft got the statues. After years of being kept in storage, and following years of negotiations, they were donated to the University in 1959 by the heir of the original owner. They were then installed on the Orange Trail at Allerton, mounted only on the dirt beneath them, and stayed there until the 1980s when they were moved to the Krannert Art Museum.

They are now back to delight—or shock—trail walkers, now mounted on concrete pedestals.



Rod and Bear statue

Both the large bronzes were cast by French sculptor Emmanuel Frémiet (1824-1910). “Denicheur d’Oursons” (1885) translates as “Hunter of Bear Cubs” or “Bear Cub Thief”. “Denicher” means to pluck from the nest. It’s a rather graphic depiction of an enraged mother bear stabbed by the hunter, who has a dead baby bear hanging from his belt. The man is also badly injured by the bear and will soon die, so it seems there are no winners in this encounter. When he first showed his Bear and Man of the Stone Age (listed as “Ours et Homme de l’age de pierre”) at the Paris Salon in 1885 it was made of plaster. Then he cast two bronzes of the statue, when it was renamed Denicheur d’Oursons: one is here in Illinois, the other is in the Jardin des Plantes, Paris, where children enjoy climbing on it. They are not dated or numbered, but at that time it was not common for works to be dated or numbered. The foundry was Thiebaut Frères, Paris


Foundry mark


Me and the Gorilla


Rod and the Gorilla

Gorilla Carrying off a Woman” (1887) is just what it says, but one wonders why the woman is wearing only a loin cloth. There is a slithering snake at the statue’s base, which might be a symbol of evil. It was also in plaster when first shown, and won a gold medal at the Paris salon in 1887. There are three other bronzes of this piece; one at the Menagerie of the Jardin des Plantes, Paris; and two in museums in Nantes (France) and Melbourne (Australia).


Joan of Arc, Paris, by Fremiet

Both of these powerful pieces have caused a lot of controversy over the years—artists saying they are sexist, racist, examples of nature clashing with humans. They do indeed elicit emotion, which to my mind is one thing that art should do. The setting for these pieces at Allerton is great, on the quiet trail, deep in the woods. They represent a standard of late 19th century academic and popular taste, favoring works that contrast bestial force with human figures of grace and vulnerability. They are angry beasts acting according to their natural instincts, victims as well as perpetrators of violence.

Frémiet became famous because of the anatomical accuracy of his works and his ability to produce life-size animal groups. He worked mainly with animal studies, but did produce some other famous works. Two that we have seen are the gilt-bronze Joan of Arc in the Place Pyramides, Paris, and the huge elephant in the plaza outside the Musée d’Orsay, called “Jeune Éléphant pris au piège”.


Me by Fremiet’s elephant outside the Orsay Museum


Fremiet’s Joan of Arc

Emmanuel Frémiet (1824-1910) was born in Paris into an artistic family. He was nephew and pupil of Sophie Frémiet and later a pupil of her husband Francois Rude (who did a lot of work in Dijon and has a museum of his works there) and trained in art from a very young age. As a student he spent much of his time at the Jardin des Plantes studying the live animals and participating in the dissection of the ones that had died. Along with Antoine Louis Barye, people consider him to be the best and most well-known French animalier sculptors, who also made collecting animal sculptures fashionable.

See more about Frémiet here http://www.bronze-gallery.com/sculptors/artist.cfm?sculptorID=22



Charioteers without a Chariot

During the Covid-19 stay-at-home orders in Illinois, we were lucky as we were still able to leave the house and walk in nearby local parks. One of those parks is the Robert Allerton Park (which I wrote about here https://viviennemackie.wordpress.com/2020/06/04/allerton-park-a-jewel-in-central-illinois/ ), and we visited a number of times, as there is so much to see and do there.

twoBesides walking the trails and enjoying the various flower gardens, we were really interested in all the art works and decided to try and find as many as possible. Robert Allerton loved art and music from a very young age, studied art in Europe and, even when he was managing his family agricultural holdings, collected different art pieces all his life. He donated over 6,000 art pieces to the Art Institute in Chicago (one of the biggest patrons in its history) and became an honorary president and trustee. Some of the sculptures in Allerton Park are replicas of those that he donated to the Art Institute.

And the first we find are the Delphi Charioteers from 1924.

oneAs you drive in to Allerton Park you see two tall statues standing on pillars at the main park entrance. They are limestone, each 5 feet high, copies of a bronze Charioteer of Delphi made for the Art Institute, which was itself modeled after the Charioteer of Delphi in Greece, c. 470. They are not exact though, as the long draped tunics stretch, making them look almost like fluted columns.

When Robert Allerton first installed them in the park in 1924 they each had one arm and a bit of rein (like the one in Delphi). But Allerton decided to have the arms removed. As he said, “there was no chariot and there was this arm out, it just looked stupid.”

The original Charioteer of Delphi (ca 478 BC) once stood at the Temple of Apollo in DelphiDelphi. It was found by French excavators in 1896 and is one of the few original bronze statues surviving from Ancient Greece. It is now in the Delphi Archeological Museum.

These two limestone statues are lovely and make a dramatic entrance to this wonderful park.


A walking trail in Allerton Park


Fu Dog Garden


From the Walled Garden to the Parterre, the greenhouses, Visitors’ Center and cafe on the right

The Robert Allerton Park is a 1,517-acre park, nature center and conference center in central Illinois, very close to the town of Monticello, about a 40-minute drive from Urbana. If you are ever in the area it is definitely worth a visit, to walk around, enjoying the gardens and outdoor sculptures, and perhaps have a picnic.

Please note: the Visitors’ Center and café are currently still closed as per the University Covid policy. But the rest of the park is open, with signs for people to be mindful of social-distancing.


Peony Garden


Walkway between the gardens, with a statue of Adam

Robert Allerton (1873-1964) was an industrialist heir to a banking and stockyard fortune, a philanthropist and an artist who built this private estate at Allerton in 1900. The estate was the center of the 12,000-acre agricultural enterprise built up by Robert’s father, Samuel  Allerton(1828-1914) during the late 1800s. Robert donated it to the University of Illinois in 1946, plus an additional 3,600 acres of farmland. He also designated another 250 acres in the estate’s boundaries to be used as the Illinois 4-H Memorial Camp. He stipulated that the property be used for education, research, as a forest and plant-life reserve, as a park, and as an example of landscape gardening. The Robert Allerton Estate was registered as a National Historic Place by the National Park Service in 2007.

Robert oversaw his father’s interests in the central Illinois farms, but his real interest was art. He was educated in Europe (Munich, Paris and London) and became a keen art collector and artist, using the landscape as his canvas. Because he believed in the artistic power of nature he was totally committed to caring for the land. John Gregg was his protégé and later his adopted son. Robert and John shaped the Illinois farmland over many decades, capturing the natural beauty of the woodland and the prairie, and built formal gardens that they used as an outdoor gallery for the sculptures they collected in their travels around the world.


Walking a trail


Mansion and Reflecting Pool


Entering the Walled Garden


Avenue of Chinese Musicians

The park has many features and many things to do, so it’s easy to spend a whole day there, or to return. The first parking area is close to the mansion, and has a toilet block, and other parking is down the road near the start of the gardens. The Georgian-Revival mansion, overlooking a reflecting pond, is used for conferences and other activities. Nearby are a brick walled garden, formal European-style gardens, a small visitors’ center and café with toilets, a huge meadow, a long avenue flanked by gardens and lined with various statues, such as the avenue of Chinese musicians, (called the Sculpture Walk), leading to a Sunken Garden. The two main gardens are a Peony Garden (which has been glorious in the last few weeks) and the Annuals and Bulb Garden.


Sunken Garden


Peony Garden


Bulb Garden

The Sangamon River runs through part of the estate and some of the walking trails run along near the river.  Some of the walks in the woods lead to wonderful outdoor sculptures, such as the Death of the Last Centaur by French sculptor Bourdelle.  A short walk from the first parking area takes you to the Fu Dog Garden, and a longer drive takes you to the famous Sun Singer sculpture.


Relaxing after walking to the Death of the Last Centaur


Me with a couple of Fu Dogs


Running down the alley leading to Fu Dog Garden


The Sun Singer

We love visiting the park and marveling at all the treasures there. It’s quiet and beautiful, especially on some of the walking trails, and is a wonderful way to experience art and nature together.

Over the next few posts I’ll try to highlight some of these special places and features. The Illinois stay-at-home order due to the Covid-19 pandemic did allow people to still visit parks (so long as adhering to social distancing), so we took advantage of this, while we couldn’t do much else, and tried to visit all our nearby parks. We’ve been to Allerton three times in about a month.

Art Imitating Life


Masks, or Face Coverings

Here in Illinois, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we have to wear a face covering when in an indoor space and outdoors if social distancing is not possible. Almost everyone is complying, so it was fun to see that some of our neighborhood outdoor/garden sculptures are also wearing appropriate face masks.

Our neighbor with the Lady Liberty statue often decorates her (she had shamrocks and leprechauns on St Patricks Day, for example). Here she has a face mask with our University of Illinois logo.


horseI recently wrote about the lovely painted fiber-glass horse (see previous post), so today I was pleased to see the horse complying! We need to have a sense of humor in these times I think.


Our Local Painted Horse



A few downed tree branches in a storm

I love walking past the house in our neighborhood that has a painted fiber-glass horse in the front garden. Apparently the owner bought it many years ago from the large Amish red barn/mall in a nearby town, when that huge Amish complex was closing. The horse was part of a diorama, and was one of the horses pulling an Amish horse buggy. As the owner told me, “Many years later, after the original paint job had gotten ratty, the famous artist and animator Nina Paley (who is a local) painted the abstract lizard pattern you now see on the horse. I’m not sure exactly how long it’s been in our yard, but it’s long enough to show up in Google street view, which is all that truly matters.”

I’ve written about painted fiber-glass animals-on-parade before (and included mention of this horse) and we really like them (see here https://viviennemackie.wordpress.com/2016/03/18/animals-on-parade/ ). Even though this horse was not part of a city parade, it is still lovely with its dark blue and white markings and seems even more special here in a garden setting.

downA few weeks ago we had a bad storm with heavy winds that caused a fair bit of tree damage. It also blew down the horse, which I was sad to see on my walk, as it looked like the feet/hooves were quite damaged. But luckily, the next time I walked past, the horse was back up on its feet. Go horse! Long may you stand!




Violets and Dandelions

Violets and Dandelions



It’s spring here, and our neighborhood is bright with lovely flowering trees and spring flowers.


Pink magnolia




A typical lawn

There’s also a profusion of wild violets and dandelions in many of the lawns and verges, as though the new green is decorated with yellow, purple and white sprinkles. In one well-tended garden bursting with blooms of all kinds, the owners have put little signs explaining what each type of flower is. A nice idea. One of the signs was for Dandelions, which got me thinking.

Dandelions and violets always seem to grow together here in our part of Illinois (and maybe through the state) and yet they are regarded somewhat differently. The Common Blue Violet, Viola sororia, is the state flower of Illinois, probably because it is very prominent and easy to grow. It was declared the official state flower on January 21, 1908 after Illinois school children voted to select the violet. Most of the violets are purple but some are more blue, and some white with blue-purple streaks. Other states that have the violet as the state flower are New Jersey, Rhode Islands, and Wisconsin.


The local neighborhood sign


puffDandelions (taraxacum officinale) on the other hand are regarded by many gardeners as weeds. I have a couple of friends who are avid gardeners and they spend a fair bit of time trying to dig out dandelions. I’m not really sure why there’s this negative feeling, because dandelions are very nutritious and the flowers are a symbol of perseverance and healing, as they can endure almost any living condition. And people love to blow the dandelion’s fluffy white seed head, while making a wish.

Just a thought. I’ll continue to enjoy the juxtaposition of yellow and purple in the green!


Sometimes the violets are more white than blue/purple



Redwood, Muir Woods, California


Fall colors


El Drago Milenio, Tenerife, Canary Islands. Supposedly the oldest tree of its kind in the world 

Why Arbor Day? Why Trees?

Trees are a miracle of nature, beloved and used by most people. Trees have an enormous impact on the lives of all of us. They provide beauty, protection, a changing landscape, and food, as well as regulating the climate and environment.

This year, Earth Day and Arbor Day are very close, but it seems appropriate as many of the goals are the same. Over the years we have been lucky enough to travel to many places and we’ve collected up a lot of photos related to trees. I had fun going through some of them and trying to make a selection that shows some of the different trees and functions of trees. Enjoy going through them!

For me, the word “Trees” always evokes the poem of the same name:

” Trees” by Joyce Kilmer, 1886–1918  


Walking in Allerton Park, Illinois

I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest

Against the sweet earth’s flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,

And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear    


New tree, Urbana

A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;

Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,

But only God can make a tree.  

There are many poems, songs and quotations about trees and what they mean to people, as can be seen from this link below.


And, trees are honored and celebrated in a special day, Arbor Day on the last Friday in April (The Latin word for “tree” is “arbor”). It is a day to plant and dedicate a tree to help nature and the environment. The National Arbor Day Foundation provides an estimated 18+ million trees for planting each year.


Merritt Island, Florida. A place for water birds


Sequoia National Park, California 


Our deck, Urbana

Background to Arbor Day

National Arbor Day has been celebrated since 1872. The idea for the celebration began in 1854 when J. Sterling Morton, a journalist, moved from Detroit to the area that is now the state of Nebraska. At that time it was a largely treeless plain and Morton and his neighbors noticed that trees were needed to act as windbreaks to stabilize the soil and to give shade, fuel and building materials. Morton planted many trees around his own home but also wanted to encourage others to do the same.

So, in January 1872 at a Nebraska State Board of Agriculture meeting, he proposed a holiday to plant trees on April 10, 1872. This was known as “Arbor Day” and a total of about one million trees were planted in Nebraska on that first Arbor Day. In 1874, the Governor proclaimed that Arbor Day would be observed officially on April 10, and in 1885, it became a legal holiday and was moved to April 22, which was Morton’s birthday. Other states began to celebrate an Arbor Day too and former President Richard Nixon proclaimed the last Friday in April as National Arbor Day during his presidency in 1970.


Fall, our street


Fallen giant, Redwood National Park, California



All states in the US now have an official Arbor Day, usually at a time of year that has the right conditions for planting trees—generally in April, but some states have their Arbor Day during other months. Many countries around the world have similar events to encourage the planting and care of trees. The dates are usually chosen to coincide with the optimal season for planting or caring for native trees.

Although Arbor Day celebrations take on many different forms, nearly every one involves the planting of trees, and education about their importance and continued importance to the environment.


Trees are for playing


Trees are for shade. Craft market, South Africa


Trees are for eating. Pilansberg National Park, South Africa


The sign tells us this tree was 3,200 years old!

What’s Special About Trees

They are the biggest and longest-living organisms on earth. A miracle of biological engineering allows them to grow very tall and a complex chemical factory exists within their structure. Trees take water and minerals out of the earth and lift them up to the leaves, sometimes over 400 feet above. By photosynthesis the leaves take energy from sunlight and combine the water and minerals with carbon dioxide from the air to produce the nutrients that feed the tree. In this process, trees create wood as well as many chemicals, seeds and fruit that are beneficial to both humankind and animals.


Knightwood Oak Historic Tree, New Farm, England


Interesting sign showing some the benefits of trees


Redwoods National Forest, California

Some of the more obvious benefits of trees are:

—They provide important products from wood, such as lumber and paper, as well as other products like chewing gum and soap.

—They provide shade, which gives relief to people and animals in hot climates and can help us save on air-conditioning costs. They block wind, thereby saving on winter heating costs.

—They can increase property values by up to 10%, as most people prefer a property with leafy greenery of some sort.

—They clean the air by filtering and removing pollutants, such as carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, from the air.

—They provide food and habitat for wildlife, and many edible items for humans too.


Lounging leopard, Masai Mara Park, Kenya


Nutmeg tree, Grenada

—For many people trees also have a strong emotional influence as they are seen as a symbol of life, of growth, regeneration and sheltering protection. Research has shown that people who live near trees feel happier emotionally and are less likely to show depression or aggressive behavior.


Bananas, Grenada


Cork tree, Israel


A haven for birds


Tropical forest, Grenada

These days, much of our concern is related to conservation issues. Tropical rain forests are especially important; although they now occupy less than 6 per cent of the land surface of the earth they probably sustain more than half of the biological diversity on earth. All over the world, the forested area of the earth is steadily being depleted, which is leading to the degradation of the environment and the extinction of many species, both plants and animals.

There is now a real danger that in the not-too-distant future man will destroy a large proportion of the present population of species on earth, create an uninhabitable environment, and then die out himself. If this happens it will not be the first time that a large proportion of the species on the earth have been extinguished. It will not be only because of the loss of trees, but that will be a highly significant causative factor.


A fun house from an old tree trunk

So, please go plant a tree!



Earth Day 2020



Blue-footed Booby, Galapagos


Grand Canyon

Earth Day 2020 is on April 22nd

The theme for Earth Day 2020 is Climate Action, which sounds extremely relevant to me. In honor of Earth Day I’ve picked out some of our photos of wonderful places on our earth, and a couple of where we’ve seen evidence of pollution/plastic waste. Enjoy, and realize what it is that we may all lose if we cannot slow down this climate change and drastically reduce pollution. What humans are doing to the earth has a chain reaction on so many levels. For example, agriculture is affected in many ways (drought, flooding, higher temperatures, bees [as pollinators] in danger), and loss of habitat is extremely damaging to huge numbers of wild animals, such as African wildlife, and Monarch butterflies. Extending mining/hunting/logging, for example, in public lands and in or close to national parks can have devastating effects on these natural wonders.


Grand Tetons National Park



Rhino in Umfolozi Game Park, South Africa


Cows in France


Spring crocuses

Our earth is wonderful, so let’s help preserve it. During these times of shut-downs, lock-downs, and stay-at-home orders, I think many people have come to realize the healing and soothing power of Nature. If we are lucky enough to be allowed to exercise outside we’ve felt how great it is to see the blooming spring trees, the lawns emerging green, and the geese on the ponds. I come back from my outdoor walks feeling refreshed, as I’m sure many others do.

A very interesting side effect of the Covid-19 pandemic appears to be an obvious lessening of pollution in many places. For example, we have seen pictures and heard reports (which I assume are not fake) about clearer skies over some US cities, in parts of India, and over the Himalaya Mountains, and of cleaner waters in and around Venice so that swans and dolphins have returned.


Redwood trees, California


Cherry blossoms, Japan House, Urbana


Sheep, Scotland

This obviously shows us that the effect of humans and their actions can have an enormous effect. So let’s continue to find ways to continue. The theme for this year’s Earth Day was obviously chosen before this Covid-19 pandemic, so what’s happening is kind of prophetic in a way.


Sunset, Grenada


Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe 


Geyser, Yellowstone National Park

This year is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and the enormous challenge—but also the vast opportunities—of action on climate change has been identified as the most pressing issue. As the official Earth Day website says, “At the end of 2020, nations will be expected to increase their national commitments to the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change. The time is now for citizens to call for greater global ambition to tackle our climate crisis. Unless every country in the world steps up – and steps up with urgency and ambition — we are consigning current and future generations to a dangerous future.


Pollution, north part of Hokkaido, Japan


Baled hay, France


Galapagos giant tortoises


Vineyards, France

Earth Day is celebrated every year on April 22nd to show support for environmental protection. It was first celebrated in 1970 and now includes events in more than 193 countries. In 1970 about 20 million Americans took to the streets, college campuses, and hundreds of cities to protest environmental ignorance and demand a new way forward for our planet. It was from this that the modern environmental movement was launched.

Here’s the website on the history of Earth Day if you want more information. https://www.earthday.org/history/ 


Pollution, Tiananmen Square, Beijing


Sunflowers, France


Yellowstone National Park






Mr. Big Beetle


Mr Big Beetle on an ash tree leaf



We love how the shadow of the leaf changes depending on time of day

I hope that all of you and your loved ones are doing okay during this Covid-19 pandemic. It certainly is changing all our lives, and will continue to do so in ways we probably can’t imagine yet.

Here in Urbana we are lucky as we are still allowed to walk outside, so long as we all keep the proper social-distancing rules and, now, preferably wearing masks. So, we walk every day—it’s good for us, and helps to break the day. We have a wonderful park in town, called Meadowbrook Park, which I’ve written about a couple of times before. Besides the walking paths, there are many outdoor sculptures, some of which I’ve described before. Sometimes they change, as some are just on loan for a while, and then a new one appears.


signThis one is relatively new. It’s lovely, but also has an interesting story.

The information board tells us it’s “Mr. Big Beetle Finds His Way”, by Janet Austin, 2015, stainless steel and glass mosaic. It was first shown in Lincoln Park Zoo in 2015, and recently came to Meadowbrook Park.

Janet Austin lives and works in Chicago. Her sculptures represent natural forms, mainly plants, larvae and insects. She believes that invasive and unappealing species are unfairly hated and people don’t appreciate their uniqueness and beauty. She feels that humankind needs to realize the importance of biodiversity, and the harm that applying pesticides does to the environment.

In the case of this beetle, what strikes one first is that, yes, it is big, and it is pretty with beetleiridescent green tiles. The interesting part is the meaning of “Finds His Way” in the title. He’s finding his way through a leaf maze, and the leaf is in the shape of an ash tree leaf. The larvae of the Emerald Ash Borer make trails like this in the bark of ash trees. The beetle came to this country from Asia, probably on wooden shipping palettes. In Asia there are many natural predators for the beetle, but not so here, so over the years many hundreds of thousands of ash trees were affected and had to be cut down. Including here in Urbana-Champaign.

For Janet Austin this creates a dilemma: the beetle is just doing what he has to in order to survive. We want to save the ash trees, for many reasons (such as shade, shelter for other creatures), but to do that we have to apply pesticides around the roots, which may affect other insects and birds eating those insects.

I find this a really thought-provoking idea, one that has no easy solution, but hopefully her work will make people think.





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