Time to Assess the Damage – Blog Post 6

It’s time to start harvesting the plants where the larvae have been feeding! I harvested six plants yesterday morning and saw several sections of damage on the coarse roots from larval feeding. I even found two larvae burrowed in the damaged areas. At the time of each harvest, I measured the plant’s stem heights, counted the number of buds on the roots, and checked for damaged areas. Like the previous destructive harvest of the thirty experimental plants, I bagged the aboveground and belowground tissues for each plant and then placed them in a drying oven so that I will be able to later weigh the tissues. I will compare these weights to the model of how belowground biomass and aboveground biomass relate to each other. I will continue to harvest plants throughout this week as more of the larvae reach the end of the eleven-day feeding period.

In other news, we have been growing a variety of plants in our section of the greenhouse to try to deter the thrips (tiny greenhouse pests) from feeding on the milkweed leaves. Some of these plants include ghost peppers, salsa peppers, and yellow bell peppers. On Friday, a brave student in Professor Williamson’s lab decided he would try a pretty sizable chunk of one of the ghost peppers. He started crying, which convinced me it was obviously a good idea to try a bite of one of these peppers. The heat burned in the back of my throat for at least fifteen minutes, but a constant intake of ice cream made this sensation tolerable. As the great Canadian rapper Aubrey Drake Graham once said, “YOLO.”