iNaturalist app helps TN Valley nature center identify different species and identify pests
A Japanese Bug, called the Woolly Adelgid, is infecting hemlock trees across Tennessee. Now, a local nature center is using app technology to locate the pests and prevent them from spreading.
Bugs, trees, plants or animals, the iNaturalist app will help identify any species living on the 300 acres the nature center owns on Lookout Mountain. Just take a picture and upload it to the app. The nature center partnered with the app two months ago and has already helped to identify 468 different local species.
"These are the things that people are seeing lately. There's a turkey, there's an arrowhead orb weaver, which is a really cool insect," Reflection Riding Arboretum and Nature Center's President Mark McKnight said.
By next April, local scientists will have collected enough samples to determine which species are growing in population. This includes unwanted pests, like the Woolly Adelgid, which are known to infect hemlock trees in the area.
"You look at a map of our property and see all the hemlocks, and that makes it a lot faster when it comes time to treat these trees, which is not cheap, as you can imagine," McKnight stated.
It costs $1 per inch to treat each tree with the insecticide needed to kill the nuisance bug. It's an expensive task with several hundred hemlock trees on the property. McKnight tells Channel 3 being able to locate the bug and find them sooner will cut that cost by 30 percent.
"It reproduces twice a year, and it reproduces asexually, so it's just cloning itself," McKnight added.
The app, which is available nationwide, is helping his team to prevent the bug from spreading. The nature center said just taking the photo, they can see it and identify it. By doing this simple step, everyone can become a citizen scientist.
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